Guns, Germs, and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies

Book - 1997
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Baker & Taylor
An intriguing study of the rise of civilization argues that human development is not based on race or ethnic differences but rather is linked to biological diversity, discussing the evolution of agriculture, technology, writing, political systems, and religious belief. Reprint.

Norton Pub
"Fascinating.... Lays a foundation for understanding human history."—Bill Gates
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 had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed 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 California's Gold Medal.

Baker
& Taylor

Dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors he feels are responsible for history's broadest patterns

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c1997
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393317558
0393317552
9780393038910
0393038912
Characteristics: 480 p., [32] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm

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buck59 Feb 14, 2015

Saw the TV show. Academically political in dismissing successful groups esp Europeans and besmirching them too eagerly. Some tribes got opportunities, but also had innate analytical and social traits that helped exploit resources. The most effective traits then had to spread in those tribes. Read about Taoist 5 Elements and Blood Type personalities for much deeper insights into innate human traits and how they form personalities of different individuals and races.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 18, 2014

A fascinating examination of the forces that have shaped human history. Why did the Fertile Crescent lead the world in the early development of farming? Why did European peoples come to dominate the Americas so easily? Diamond examines the impact things such as native plant and animal populations had on the development of mankind on each of the continents. Readable, and easily accessible for the amateur historian.

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smplreader
Aug 08, 2014

I read it for college many years ago. It's a very ambitious topic to take on and Jared Diamond lays out a convincing argument. I really liked reading about the different civilizations and their history. It does get a bit repetitive at times, but I do think that's necessary to drive home the point. It's a great read though.

oldhag Nov 19, 2013

"StarGladiator's" comments are exactly right, and much kinder than my assessment. This book is cover to cover crap! It follows the theory that if you bury readers in enough verbiage they won't notice that there's no there, there. My former respect for the Pulitzer Prize is now gone. This book (and a few other Pulitzer choices) has made me aware that the Pulitzer prize lacks integrity, and is not based on merit, quality, or scholarship. To my dismay, the Pulitzer committee, apparently, has an agenda.

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emmajtreat
Jun 13, 2013

I gave this book 3.5 stars, but I'm sure I would've given it a higher rating if I was just a few years older :) Guns, Germs, and Steel is a 500 page long World History and Social Studies course with a worldly and witty, if slightly repetitive teacher. An essential read for anyone who wants to educate themselves or impress a teacher.

r
RogerKovaltsenko
Feb 11, 2013

Excellent summary of mankinds progress through the various ages.

g
GummiGirl
Feb 05, 2013

Amazing in its scope, with just enough humanizing detail. I agree that it is somewhat repetitious, and heavy on the "geography is destiny" thesis. But it's still full of good information and well worth reading.

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StarGladiator
Jan 22, 2013

Negative Rated for Zero Scholarship: David Deutsch, the British physicist, deftly destroys Diamond's thesis in several pages (I believe it was in his book titled, "The Beginning of Infinity" but it might have been another), while Jane Jacobs, in her brilliant and clever short book, "Dark Age Ahead," destroys Diamond in just several lines --- suggesting regardless of the amount of verbiage, his thesis is highly unstable. Diamond recently wrote the introduction for a fantasy (my opinion) book on hedge fund trading by a (my opinion) fantasy hedge fund trader. I believe Diamond has finally found his true calling and niche in life. HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Prof. Joseph Tainter's earlier published, "Collapse of Complex Societies," and his utterly brilliant paper (around 12 pp.) on sustainability and complexity (last I saw it online it was dieoff.org) -- absolutely and incomparably brilliant! (For the commenter who mentioned the "Pulitzer Prize" -- many neocon authors have also been awarded that prize --- are you also in agreement with their drivel?)

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doroschelch
Aug 07, 2012

The second of the trilogy that also comprises "The Third Chimpanzee" and "Collapse"; racy style, as in all of Diamond's writing, that allows you to read sophisticated science like a thriller - and learn everything you need to know about the world at the same time!

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ocleirigh
May 02, 2012

Diamond's hypotheses (that New Guineans, his friend Yali are smarter than Europeans, and determined by environement only) is what Carl Sagan calls pseudoscience. Diamond rejects any use of IQ tests, or genetic biological research into individuals of differenet races. His hypothesis is invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle it cannot be invalidated. Jared is defensive and wary and skepticism is opposed. In true science hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved. A succession of alternative hypotheses is confronted by experiment and observation. Proprietary feelings are of course offended when a scientifc hypothesis is disproved, but such disproofs are recognized as central to the scientific enterprise.

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smplreader
Aug 08, 2014

smplreader thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

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mbazal
Jul 21, 2011

mbazal thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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suby99
Aug 01, 2008

suby99 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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emmajtreat
Jun 13, 2013

“In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.”

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mbazal
Jul 21, 2011

"An ambitious, highly important book." - James Shreeve, New York Times Book Review

"Fascinating...Lays a foundation for understanding human history." - Bill Gates

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mbazal
Jul 21, 2011

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1998 it won a Pulitzer Prize and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. A documentary based on the book, and produced by the National Geographic Society, was broadcast on PBS in July 2005.[1]

It was also published under the title Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years.[2] The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (in which he includes North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while refuting the assumption 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 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, and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.

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