Jared Mason Diamond (b. 10 September, 1937) is an American evolutionary biologist, physiologist, biogeographer and nonfiction author. Diamond works as a professor of geography and physiology at UCLA. He is best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel (1998), which also won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. He received the National Medal of Science in 1999.
Diamond was born in Boston of Polish-Jewish heritage, to a physician father and a teacher/musician/linguist mother. After attending the Roxbury Latin School, he earned a BA degree from Harvard in 1958 and his PhD in physiology and membrane biophysics from Cambridge University in 1961. During 1962-1966, he returned to Harvard as a Junior Fellow. He became a professor of physiology at UCLA Medical School in 1966. While in his twenties, he also developed a second, parallel, career in the ecology and evolution of New Guinea birds, and has since led numerous trips to explore New Guinea and nearby islands. In his fifties, Diamond gradually developed a third career in environmental history, becoming a professor of geography and of environmental health sciences at UCLA, his current position.
Diamond is the author of a number of popular science works that combine anthropology, biology, ecology, linguistics, genetics, and history.
His best-known work is the non-fiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel (1998), which asserts that the main international issues of our time are legacies of processes that began during the early-modern period, in which civilizations that had experienced an extensive amount of "human development" began to intrude upon technologically less advanced civilizations around the world. Diamond's quest is to explain why Eurasian civilizations, as a whole, have survived and conquered others, while refuting the belief that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, genetic or moral superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies do not reflect cultural or racial differences, but rather originate in environmental differences powerfully amplified by various positive feedback loops, and fills the book with examples throughout history. He identifies the main processes and factors of civilizational development that were present in Eurasia, from the origin of human beings in Africa to the proliferation of agriculture and technology.
In his most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), Diamond examines a range of past civilizations and societies, attempting to identify why they collapsed into ruins or survived only in a massively reduced form. He considers what contemporary societies can learn from these societal collapses. As in Guns, Germs and Steel, he dismantles previous ethnocentric explanations for the collapses which he discusses, and focuses instead on ecological factors. He pays particular attention to the Norse settlements in Greenland, which vanished as the climate got colder, while the surrounding Inuit culture thrived.
He also has chapters on the collapse of the Maya, Anasazi, and Easter Island civilizations, among others. He cites five factors that often contributed to a collapse, but shows how the one factor that all had in common was mismanagement of natural resources. He follows this with chapters on prospering civilizations that managed their resources very well, such as Tikopia Island and Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate.
In Collapse, Diamond distances himself from the charges of "ecological or environmental determinism" that were leveled against him in Guns, Germs and Steel . This is particularly evident in his chapter comparing Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two nations that share the same island (and similar environments) but which pursued notably different futures, primarily on the strength of their differing histories, cultures, and leaders.
1972 Avifauna of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea, Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, No. 12, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 438.
1975 M. L. Cody and J. M. Diamond, eds. Ecology and Evolution of Communities. Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
1979 J. M. Diamond and M. LeCroy. Birds of Karkar and Bagabag Islands, New Guinea. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 164:469-531
1984 J. M. Diamond. The Avifaunas of Rennell and Bellona Islands. The Natural History of Rennell Islands, British Solomon Islands 8:127-168
1986 J. M. Diamond and T. J. Case. eds. Community Ecology. Harper and Row, New York
1986 B. Beehler, T. Pratt, D. Zimmerman, H. Bell, B. Finch, J. M. Diamond, and J. Coe. Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press,Princeton
Diamond's wife, Marie (nee Marie Nabel Cohen), is a granddaughter of Edward Werner, Polish vice-Finance Minister (pre-WWII). She is also a great-grandniece of Saint Raphael Kalinowski. 
Diamond has twin sons, Josh and Max Diamond, who attend Duke University and Northwestern University respectively.
Diamond speaks a dozen languages, listed in the order learned: English, Latin, French, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Finnish, Fore (a New Guinea language), New Melanesian, Indonesian, and Italian.
Diamond's books rely on fields as diverse as molecular biology, linguistics, physiology, and archeology, as well as knowledge about typewriter design and feudal Japan. Because of his broad expertise and the large number of articles credited to him, Mark Ridley has suggested jokingly that Jared Diamond is not a single person, but instead "is really a committee."