Download Guns, Germs, and Steel Online by Jared Diamond
Click Here to Download the Book In this artful, informative, and delightful 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.
Reviews Whether you’re a professor emeritus or just a curious bystander, the fact that Guns, Germs, and Steel will have something to teach you is an understatement. Inquisitive about the why the human civilization is the way it is? Read it. Questioning whether racial or genetic superiority had anything to do with success rates of conquests in human history? Read it. Diamond does a great job of not only parsing and winnowing through information from a myriad of disciplines but presents it in a easy-to-swallow pill-shaped form that makes you grateful for not only the book’s comprehensiveness but its ability to be easily comprehended as well. Diamond starts off shooting and raising major questions that are not only intriguing but worth knowing right at the book’s inception. Why wasn’t Africa the foundation of modern human progress and civilization if that’s where human ancestors arose? Why weren’t Native Americans able to topple European conquistadors with their own set of germs and technology? Why were certain populations more susceptible towards defeat and demise than others? Why weren’t aboriginal Australians or the powerful Aztec Indians the ones to come over to Eurasia to conquer and pilfer? The answers have more to do with food and agriculture than genetic predisposition and intellectual superiority. Diamond’s real challenge more so than connecting these various theories, arguments, and evidence was to be able to present it at a readable pace. Diamond succeeds greatly whether you hold a science degree or not. This is a remarkable book to help you connect the dots at some of society’s greatest puzzles. It makes you understand how historical implications rooted back to the birth of the homo sapiens specie helped charter the world we see and live in today, and exactly how much of it is due to chance and lucky dispositions based on environmental factors rather than differing physical and mental capabilities as some (cough…cough…racists) would have you believe.
I started this book interested in the scientific foundation of the development of human societies. Jared Diamond does an excellent job of distilling the vast complexity of development into a few manageable trends. He uses a compelling mix of data from around the world to illustrate that these major themes are responsible for much of the variety we see today. In contrast to the statements by some reviewers, he does not arbitrarily ignore the role of other individual factors; instead, he suggests that these factors represent small variations in the larger trends. It is possible for
an individual to accelerate or slow the development of technology (or any other major trend), but an individual alone cannot reverse the overall trend of technological development. In a more specific example that has occasionally been attacked, Diamond suggests (I believe correctly) that the unification of China, by limiting the potential for competition among individual states, was the aggregate trend responsible for slowing China's technical progress. The fact that a single Chinese Emperor disallowed a particular technology did not make that individual the critical factor; other kings tried to do the same thing in a fragmented Europe and failed. Instead, the failure of an edict by the European King to slow technological progress was due to the fragmented and competing nations in Europe, not the particular virtues (or lack thereof) of the individual. In this sense, individuals may be the proximate cause of many events, but it is the macro-circumstances which are largely responsible for their success and the fact that their actions have been recorded in the annals of history. While the science was interesting and compelling, I found the history of the migration and displacement of human populations the real eye-opener. Our modern history records, with much moral fervor, the subjugation of Native American, South African, and Australian populations by European conquerors. This book reminds us that these are only the most recent chapters in a human history full of such displacements. South Chinese into the islands of the south pacific, North Chinese into south China, Black Western Africans into the southern half of Africa, and only more recently the better known European conquests. More amazingly, the book does not make a moral judgment on any of these events; instead, it unemotionally tells the story of human history. Indeed it even helps us understand why the Europeans were so successful in the regions where they are now the dominant population and so unsuccessful in other regions. This book is not light reading, but I believe it successfully rises above modern racism and politically correct debate to address the major trends which have shaped the human populations of our planet. Do not read this book for solutions, it has none. Read the book so that you will understand the problems which you wish to understand or solve.
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