Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared DiamondDiamond has written a book of remarkable scope ... one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a national bestseller: the global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race.
In this artful, informative, and delightful (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed writing, technology, government, and organized religion—as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war—and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of Californias Gold Medal
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Rex, our Melanesianist and thus an obvious choice to take up the task, was unfortunately departing for China just at that time. None of the rest of us leapt at the job, though we all conceded it was a worthy idea. Has this ever happened to you? You are at a party, or perhaps a family gathering, or maybe even just standing in line at the DMV when the person next to you strikes up a conversation. Are you… a racist? My own usual reaction in such encounters is to say that unfortunately I have not read the book but that boy, it sure does sound interesting. Alas, I did read most of the book several years ago.
Tags The Police State U. He has assembled a cornucopia of interesting facts and plausible insights concerning the course of events over the last 13, years. The result is well worth reading, despite the fact that I think the ambition of his main thesis reaches well beyond his actual achievement. That discrepancy is due, I believe, to Diamond's having little understanding of what history actually is. The critique of Diamond's conception of history I offer here is based on the view of the historical enterprise put forward by such philosophers of history as R. Collingwood, Ludwig von Mises, and Michael Oakeshott. They share the view that history consists in the effort to identify the particular, past circumstances that make intelligible the subsequent occurrence of other, unique events.
At 47, he was an accomplished scholar, but in two almost comically obscure niches: the movement of sodium in the gallbladder and the birdlife of New Guinea. Clearly, he needed a larger canvas. Even so, few could have predicted how large a canvas he would choose. For instance: why did one species of primate, unremarkable until 70, years ago, come to develop language, art, music, nation states and space travel? Why do some civilisations prosper, while others collapse? Why did westerners conquer the Americas, Africa and Australia, instead of the other way round?
The book attempts to explain why Eurasian and North African civilizations have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual , moral , or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate primarily in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases , he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures for example, by facilitating commerce and trade between different cultures and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes. The prologue opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yali , a New Guinean politician. The conversation turned to the obvious differences in power and technology between Yali's people and the Europeans who dominated the land for years, differences that neither of them considered due to any genetic superiority of Europeans. Yali asked, using the local term " cargo " for inventions and manufactured goods, "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own? Diamond realized the same question seemed to apply elsewhere: "People of Eurasian origin