- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (30 April 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099302780
- ISBN-13: 978-0099302780
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.7 x 19.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (274 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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.
"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)
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Top Customer Reviews
By the time the Mongols roared across Asia, or the Moguls invaded India, many cultures around the world already changed so much that bioregional factors, though seminal in the creation of these broadest trends, weren't nearly as important as the political, religious and economic ones. He is not ignoring religion and so on but, he states plainly several times that isn't his focus. He is looking for ultimate causes--before humans had extremely advanced mental concepts like religion.
He also wanted to point out the devastating influence of disease on history. It was surely the European germs that did most of the conquering of Native Americans. The guns and horses were almost incidental. Later on, once Europeans had established themselves, then we can focus on economic and political systems. But we can't ignore the effects of the diseases unleashed on the Americas. These plagues gave the Europeans a very lucky boost that catapulted them beyond the wealth and power of China, India or the Middle East--long before the Industrial Revolution made this gap obvious.
Another thing that some people seem to be having trouble with is his assertions about the native intelligence of tribal peoples around the world. (If you read the book, you notice that he is not just saying this about the New Guineans.)
He takes pains to point out what he means by this. He not talking about some mysterious genetic superiority of tribal peoples.Read more ›
The answer is: sloppy repetition and over-playing his hand. Diamond's commissioning editor should have been firmer and used the red pencil more vigorously. Over and over again, Diamond repeats great chunks of his text almost verbatim. The effect on the reader, who has got half way through the book and is just getting interested in a new point Diamond is beginning to make, of running into the third or fourth reprise of an argument (complete with evidence and rhetorical touches) on another issue is incredibly frustrating. I can't believe Diamond thinks his readers need the repetition in order to understand his argument. The fact that many of the phrases are repeated exactly suggests to me that He has been just a little careless about proof reading and has failed to delete dozens of relicts of the word-processor's "copy and paste" function.Read more ›
The author makes his points clearly and convincingly and draws on substantial evidence from various branches of science including archeology, anthropology, and linguistics to make his case. Much of the book is devoted to proving points already made earlier in the text
As a general reader i found the rather scientific approach taken in this book a little tedious at times - there is much repetition and summary of points already made, and most of the book is focused on the study of early groupings of people - the hunter gatherers, farmers, and small tribes who lived many thousands of years ago, but with little reference in the book to more modern times.
This is more hard science than it is sociology or history. A good book, but not as interesting for me as a general reader as I had hoped
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the best non-fiction book I have ever read. It clearly explains how and why advanced civilizations developed in specific areas and why people in other regions remained... Read morePublished 14 hours ago by Jason
A book that should feature in the school system. A very compelling read from start to finish - only slight criticism is that the author seems some what biased with regards to what... Read morePublished 21 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Although this may say Popular Science under genre it may not be for everyone, if you are looking for short, sharp facts and pages of lists then this is maybe not the book for you. Read morePublished 1 month ago by keen reader
Guns, germs and steel is one of my favourite books and if anyone hasn't read it I recommend it. It goes into detail in the first chapters about the origins of agriculture and WHY... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ashground87
Incredible book. The breadth and depth of knowledge it contains spanning multiple fields is impressive. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Udonomi
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