Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years Paperback – 30 Apr 1998
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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.
"The most absorbing account on offer of the emergence of a world divided between have and have-nots... Never before put together so coherently, with such a combination of expertise, charm and compassion" (The Times)
"A book of remarkable scope... One of the most important and readable works on the human past" (Nature)
"A prodigious, convincing work, conceived on a grand scale" (Observer)
"This is the book that turned me from a historian of medieval warfare into a student of humankind" (Yuval Noah Harari Week)
"Fascinating, coherent, compassionate and completely accessible" (Sunday Telegraph)
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9 January 2018
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a fascinating study and seeks to answer a basic question of world history i.e. why the "west" invaded and colonised everywhere else instead of being invaded and colonised by them. Diamond is a geographer so his answers are primarily geographic and seem quite persuasive in respect of numbers of plants and animals that could be turned to human use which in turn gave the populatations living in these areas a massive developmental advantage. Hence the invension of farming allowed huge increases in food production and fewer people needed to produce the same amount. This in turn freed up sections of the population for other tasks like technological advance, central government, standing armies, invention of writing, study of science etc. etc. So so far so good, but on the debit side Diamond pays almost no attention to cultures which might promote or hinder some of these developments. For example, it has been suggested that societies that favour ancestor worship may be inherently more conservative and less likely to allow innovation since "if it was good enough for the ancestors ...". This has been a very prominent part of African traditional religions but not in Europe. Might that have had some impact? Daimond doesn't say. So, a seminal but in my view not entirely complete account.
26 December 2017
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you have ever wondered why the world is as it is and was, with differences in the developments in technology in its widest sense, and why large part of the world were “conquered” by Western European peoples and cultures, this book will go along way to telling you. Thoroughly recommended.
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Although it took me a little time to get through, this is fascinating book. Jared Diamond has done a wonderful job of setting down a broad brush stroke history of humanity, and...Read more
How this book managed to pass me by for the last 20 years is beyond me, but it did, and I was much the poorer for it!Read more
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