Life isn't fair--here's why: Since 1500, Europeans have, for better and worse, called the tune that the world has danced to. In Guns, Germs, and Steel,
Jared Diamond explains the reasons why things worked out that way. It is an elemental question, and Diamond is certainly not the first to ask it. However, he performs a singular service by relying on scientific fact rather than specious theories of European genetic superiority. Diamond, a professor of physiology at UCLA, suggests that the geography of Eurasia was best suited to farming, the domestication of animals and the free flow of information. The more populous cultures that developed as a result had more complex forms of government and communication--and increased resistance to disease. Finally, fragmented Europe harnessed the power of competitive innovation in ways that China did not. (For example, the Europeans used the Chinese invention of gunpowder to create guns and subjugate the New World.) Diamond's book is complex and a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth--examining the "positive feedback loop" of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation, and on and on--makes sense. Written without bias, Guns, Germs, and Steel
is good global history.
"Monumental and monumentally good" (William Leith, 4 stars Scotsman
"A book of big questions, and big answers" (Yuval Noah Harari Geographical
"This is the book that turned me from a historian of medieval warfare into a student of humankind" (Yuval Noah Harari Week
"A book of remarkable scope... One of the most important and readable works on the human past" (Nature
"Fascinating, coherent, compassionate and completely accessible" (Sunday Telegraph