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Guns, Germs, and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies
Diamond, Jared M. (Book - 2005)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Guns, Germs, and Steel
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a brilliant work answering the question of why the peoples of certain continents succeeded in invading other continents and conquering or displacing their peoples. This edition includes a new chapter on Japan and all-new illustrations drawn from the television series. Until around 11,000 BC, all peoples were still Stone Age hunter/gatherers. At that point, a great divide occurred in the rates that human societies evolved. In Eurasia, parts of the Americas, and Africa, farming became the prevailing mode of existence when indigenous wild plants and animals were domesticated by prehistoric planters and herders. As Jared Diamond vividly reveals, the very people who gained a head start in producing food would collide with preliterate cultures, shaping the modern world through conquest, displacement, and genocide.The paths that lead from scattered centers of food to broad bands of settlement had a great deal to do with climate and geography. But how did differences in societies arise? Why weren't native Australians, Americans, or Africans the ones to colonize Europe? Diamond dismantles pernicious racial theories tracing societal differences to biological differences. He assembles convincing evidence linking germs to domestication of animals, germs that Eurasians then spread in epidemic proportions in their voyages of discovery. In its sweep, Guns, Germs and Steel encompasses the rise of agriculture, technology, writing, government, and religion, providing a unifying theory of human history as intriguing as the histories of dinosaurs and glaciers.
Authors: Diamond, Jared M.
Title: Guns, germs, and steel
the fates of human societies
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2005
Characteristics: 518, [32] p. of plates :,ill., maps ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Jared Diamond
Notes: "With a new chapter on Japan"--Cover
Contents: Yali's question. The regionally differing courses of history
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 Polynesian islands
Collision at Cajamarca: Why the Inca emperor Atahuallpa did not capture King Charles I of Spain
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?
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
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
The future of human history as a science
Who are the Japanese? 2003 afterword: Guns, germs, and steel today
ISBN: 0393061310
Branch Call Number: 303.4 D537g 2005
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 466--496) and index
Subject Headings: Social evolution Civilization History Ethnology Human beings Effect of environment on Culture diffusion
Topical Term: Social evolution
Civilization
Ethnology
Human beings
Culture diffusion
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a brilliant work answering the question of why the peoples of certain continents succeeded in invading other continents and conquering or displacing their peoples.


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Aug 08, 2014
  • smplreader rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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.

"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.

Jun 13, 2013
  • emmajtreat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

Feb 11, 2013
  • KOVALTSENKO rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent summary of mankinds progress through the various ages.

Feb 05, 2013
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

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?)

Oct 17, 2012
  • johnsankey rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

brilliant insights into how modern civilization evolved from hunter gathering, and why certain places were favoured by their natural environment for that evolution.

Aug 07, 2012
  • doroschelch rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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!

Jul 28, 2012
  • ocleirigh rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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.

Aug 12, 2011
  • nikki14 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A great read.

It's nothing that anthropologists haven't been saying for the past 50 years but I'm glad the message has gotten out to the mainstream.

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Aug 08, 2014
  • smplreader rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Jul 21, 2011
  • mbazal rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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Aug 01, 2008
  • suby99 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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Jul 21, 2011
  • mbazal rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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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Jun 13, 2013
  • emmajtreat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“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.”

Jul 21, 2011
  • mbazal rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

"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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app09 Version Arkelstorp Last updated 2014/10/23 09:41