I've come across references to this guy in a number of books.
I found this lecture interesting enough.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc4bXIg8JDk
Jared Diamond is the author of "Guns, Germs and Steel" and the current New York Times' best selling "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." This lecture examines the factors that caused great civilizations of the past to collapse and what we can learn from their fates.
I've read Guns, Germs and Steel and it is an excellent book. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in the history and development of cultures and civilisations. It explains why certain cultures and regions developed at different paces and what prevented others, like Africa from keeping pace.
It also serves as a hugh rebuttal of any racists who believe that Europeans have some inherent, evolutionary, master race-type advantages over other races. This book should be indispinsible.
Thanks for the links, Johnnnnn. Nice one!