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Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years Paperback – 30 Apr 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 300 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

"Monumental and monumentally good" (William Leith, 4 stars Scotsman)

"A book of big questions, and big answers" (Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens)

"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)

"A prodigious, convincing work, conceived on a grand scale" (Observer)

"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)

"Diamond's sideways-on view of human development may well establish its author as one of the very few scientists to have changed the way we think about history" (Sunday Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Mr Diamond sets out to answer a local (New Guinea) politician s question, briefly why westerners have all the gear and his people had so little. The author establishes the cause of environmental opportunity and the effect of technological advancement. The earliest development is food production as opposed to hunting-gathering and everything seems to follow from that. He makes a very compelling argument and I think anyone finding the logic of determinacy too much, is probably nursing some kind of elitism. The scope of the opening chapters is mindboggling.
A narrower focus on each of the continents and type of development in turn gradually drives home the welcome message that bushman is as intelligent or more so than European but had less or different options in feeding himself/ herself due to ecological factors. It also incidentally answers many historical questions and opens areas of debate that are all too little visited - certainly outside academe. Heartily recommended.
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A perspective changer. The most interesting book I've read in a long time.
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By DR on 19 Mar. 2017
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Tends towards environmental determinism viewpoint but Diamond argues his case well
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An insightful but frustrating book to read. The main tenets and theories put forward are repeated ad nauseum throughout the book. It should be a quarter of the page count that is actually is, it's been padded out in a huge way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fantastic book. Contains great research and insight into the development of human civilisation. Informs of the major factors influencing rate of progress.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
too wordy, lose interest quickly, not an easy read but lots of information.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the most profound books I have ever read. Diamond intertwines human history with an intriguing narrative that kept my interest right to the end.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
thoroughly enjoyed
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