National Geographic: Guns, Germs and Steel [DVD]
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Based on the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Book. It is perhaps the most fundamental question of world history: why are some civilisations conquered and others conquerors? Author and scholar Jared Diamond's surprising answer, found in his acclaimed bestseller, Guns, Germs and Steel, is the basis of this thought-provoking three-part series. Out of Eden - Evidence from Papua New Guinea to the Middle East supports Diamond's theory that a society's development may have had less to do with skill or ingenuity, than with an ability to raise high-protein grains and domesticated livestock. He suggests that successful farming gave rise to an explosion of sophisticated civilisations, from the Fertile Crescent to the New World. Conquest - Diamond focuses on Spanish conquistador Pizarro's 16th-century assault on the Inca. Was it the Spaniards' advanced weaponry that defeated the empire? Was it also the Europeans' innate resilience to some infectious diseases a resistance born of centuries of contact with domesticated animals? The European triumph of the New World may have rested on an agent of conquest unknown to even the conquerors and that proved deadlier than any human foe. Into the Tropics - Diamond extends his quest to Africa, probing early European attempts to colonise the continent. The conquerors were initially successful, repelling native attackers with rifles and Maxim guns but they met unexpected obstacles when they moved from temperate zones to the tropics. The debilitating scourge of malaria, like the AIDS epidemic of today, overwhelmed their mightiest resources.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the production had a bit more of the american-style "superhero scientist" in it than I would have liked, I nevertheless rate this DVD as offering among the highest value for 3 hours of your time compared to almost any other available from Amazon.
Most of the budget for the three-part documentary has been spent on ferrying Jared Diamond to New Guinea and Africa for a handful of pieces to camera, and the rest on a lavish reconstruction of Francisco Pizarro's defeat of the Inca army at the battle of Cajamarca. Snippets from these segments are repeated many times during each episode, giving the documentary an unforgivably repetitive feel.
The documentary covers the invention of agriculture and the domestication of animals engagingly, but the last episode veers off into a segment in poor taste in which Jared Diamond is confronted by dying children in an AIDS ward in Africa while the narrator heavy-handedly hammers home the impact of disease on the development of society.
The domination of less-technological societies by industrialised societies is barely covered - a few shots of a steam train passing through the African landscape are used as illustration.
All in all, a badly garbled, lopsided introduction of Jared Diamond's classic. Do yourself a favour and buy the book in hardback instead. At least it'll last longer when you lend it to your friends.
The subject matter is so complex that most viewers will recognise familiar topics, although some may notice omissions, but in all fairness, there is not sufficient room in both the film and the book for a full explanation of each and phenomina mentioned (eg when the consequence of the difference between temperate and tropical climates is mentioned, there is no real need to mention that this is largely due to the earths rotational axis (currently) being inclined 23.4 degrees from the ecliptic plane.)
As mentioned above, and in other reviews, there is some (understandable?) lack of objectivity, but these reviews also demonstrate that the subject matter is thought-provoking, which is possibly one of the authors aims.
And in another 13,000 years, current evidence suggests:
The inclination of the rotational axis will be reduced to 22.5 degrees
The moon will be very slightly further away
Many of the facts are just down right wrong it is like the tail waging the dog. One good example is that as you can see in the series "The Ascent of Man" (Available in Britten) or the book by Jacob Bronowski it was the natural change in wheat that brought on agriculture not agriculture that brought on the change in wheat; he also misses the boat by ignoring the economic reasons for culture, commerce and war. A good book to read on the subject of plants migration and commerce is "Green Cargoes" by Anne Dorrance. There are too many examples of missed or purposely ignored more logical reasons for differences in cultures for example it is never mentioned, for example, "why" the Chinese, having developed gunpowder used it in a more benign manner.
Now it was not all a waste. First there may be some credence in his theory. However it was very interesting to watch the confutation between the conquistadors and the Natives of Peru.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't quite know what to make of this - so I'm giving it to my brother-in-law. He's an Academic and therefore knows everything. Or so he believes!Published 24 months ago by JustTrev
Not what I expected, the documentary took a long time to get to the parts I found interesting.Published on 3 Nov. 2014 by Kevin Pinel
Very informative, interesting, scenic, well presented. Well worth watching.Published on 17 Oct. 2014 by ,,
Very good service, dvd arrived in good condition and quickly. An excellent interpretation of the book by Jared Diamond, everyone should see this at least once.Published on 3 Mar. 2014 by Keats
it was for a present. excellent purchase. he loved it, it was right up his street. very cheaply priced also.thankyouPublished on 21 Jan. 2014 by imelda riley
I had high expectations after reading the book, which I rate very very high.
The documentary is good, solid but not at par. Read more
Interesting, partly based on science, does not live up to the book but enjoyable. Gives rise to some discussion among viewers, and to some further research regarding factsPublished on 13 Oct. 2013 by C.M. Palmberg-Lerche