New. Hardcover and dust jacket. Good binding and cover. Clean, unmarked pages. Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1998. Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, 1998. Description: 480 pages,  pages of plates: illustrations, maps; 24 cmContents: Prologue: Yali's question: the regionally differing courses of history; Part 1: From Eden to Cajamarca. Up to the starting line: What happened on all the continents before 11, 000 B.C. ? ; A natural experiment of history: how geography molded societies on the Polynesian islands; Collision at Cajamarca: why the Inca emperor Atahuallpa did not capture King Charles I of Spain--Part 2: The rise and spread of food production. Farmer power: the roots of guns, germs, and steel; History's haves and have-nots: geographic differences in the onset of food production; To farm or not to farm: causes of the spread of food production; How to make an almond: the unconscious development of ancient crops; Apples or Indians: why did peoples of some regions fail to domesticate plants? ; Zebras, unhappy marriages, and the Anna Karenina principle: Why were most big wild mammal species never domesticated? ; Spacious skies and tilted axes: Why did food production spread at different rates on different continents? --Part 3: From food to guns, germs, and steel. Lethal gift of livestock: the evolution of germs; Blueprints and borrowed letters: the evolution of writing; Necessity's mother: the evolution of technology; From egalitarianism to kleptocracy: the evolution of government and religion--Part 4: Around the world in five chapters. Yali's people: the histories of Australia and New Guinea; How China became Chinese: the history of East Asia; Speedboat to Polynesia: the history of Austronesian expansion; Hemispheres colliding: the histories of Eurasia and the Americas compared; How Africa became black: the history of Africa--Epilogue: The future of human history as a science.
An insightful, well-written, and logical explanation of the reasons for the global political, economic, and ethnic order that exists today. It is easy to understand how a people that settled in the 'fertile cresent', with its climate and abundant natural resources in domesticable plants and animals, would be one that flourished along that particular lattitude. Increased population density in a rich environment was bound to give an advantage to such a civilization.
Jun 30, 2013
The Emperor's New Clothes
This book has been praised by many (including Bill Gates!), received several awards, and was serialized in PBS. I may play here the role of the simpleton who screamed that the Emperor had no clothes on his august person. So be it!
As I see it, the author has used some 500 pages to present his thesis that the world domination once achieved by the Europeans and their descendants was not the product of superior intelligence, fearless determination, or incredible stoicism in the face of adversity. No. It was derived from the fact that they had more food available to them (even though the Incas were well fed, and there was more starvation in Europe than in the Mexico of the Aztecs). Also, according to the author, the Europeans were resistant to infectious diseases, an affirmation that may astonish anyone with minimal knowledge of medical history.
The author goes far in slighting the achievements of the Europeans. Here is an example, Mr. Diamond contrast the 400 feet-long Chinese vessels of the 1400s against their contemporary, ?puny? (his word) ships of Columbus. It seems not to matter that the portentous Chinese float achieved nothing, while the ?puny? vessels of Columbus changed the history of the world.
The simpleton has spoken.
Oct 11, 2012
Who you are in so many levels.
An open mind is required to understand why. Ask yourself while reading what could you have done to accomplish as much as those you judge.
Oct 27, 2011
Details, details, details
Jared Diamond takes you through every conceivable nook and cranny of man's so-called evolution. Far from taking the stance that humans of European decent are smarter or "more advanced" because they're just biologically better than everyone else, he shows us just how we earthlings have advanced because of our surroundings... not because of what's inside our craniums. I cannot recommend it enough. Next on my list is his book 'Collapse'.
Jul 15, 2010
Guns, Germs and Steel was recommended to Shawnee State University, by Prof. Mark Mirabello, for inclusion in its Foundations of Social Sciences course - SOSC1110-01. Some college text books can be dry, but this book was fascinating. It provided a look at the world's history through new and focused eyes. Revealing answers to questions long since ask and forgotten. Answers as to why and how racism started in the first place, why some people are bless, while others seem forgotten and why the world's countries are unequal in wealth.
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