Read Guns, Germs, and Steel PDF 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 Pulitzer-Prize Winning Book. In 1532, Francisco Pizarro landed on the coast of Peru with horses, muskets, steel swords, helmets, armor, and a silent arsenal of deadly germs. Pizarro and less than 200 men conquered an Inca empire of more than 80,000 soldiers, captured the Inca emperor, and looted the empire's stores of gold and silver. Why did European and Asian civilizations develop military advantage over American civilizations? This book answers that question. Guns Germs and Steel explains European technological hegemony by showing that domesticable animals and domesticable plants provide the natural resources on which civilizations can develop critical advantages such as steel swords, armor, gunpowder, and immunities to deadly animal-bread diseases. For example, in Europe and Asia, the domestication of cows, sheep, and horses brought humans into close physical living conditions with these animals, exposing humans to animal-spread diseases for which they developed immunities over thousands of years. Because these animals did not exist in the Americas, and because Native Americans had no way of developing immunities to diseases like smallpox that came from these animals, the Native American populations suffered devastation upon being exposed to Europeans. Millions died. The availability of domesticable animals led to other advancements as well, such as the wheel. What advantage would a wheel give you if you had no large, domesticable animal like a horse or an ox to pull a cart or a chariot or a carriage? While Europeans developed many uses for a wheel, early American civilizations never developed a useful wheel, a chariot, or a horse-drawn carriage because these important domesticable animals did not exist in pre-Colombian Americas. Domesticable plants like wheat gave European and Asian civilizations time away from hunting and processing food to develop other specialized trades and the division of labor. Labor specialization gave Eurasians more time to experiment with metals. It took centuries of experimentation to develop steel by adding precise amounts of carbon to iron and further centuries to develop the process of folding steel to strengthen it enough to form the long, slender shaft of a steel sword. The American civilizations s never developed steel or advanced metallurgy that would enable them to create swords and other metal weaponry. These are among the many advancements that the Eurasians developed over the Americas because the many interconnected Eurasian civilizations possessed domesticable animals and plants.
Guns Germs and Steel shows that domesticable animals and domesticable plants provide the natural resources on which European and Asian civilizations developed technological advancements over civilizations in the Americas, Australia, and Indonesia.
Christopher Smith is incorrect in his description of Diamond's work. First, Diamond does NOT reject the influence of culture and human decisions on the fates of societies. This is discussed at length in the Epilogue. Second, and worse, is that clearly Smith either did not read the book carefully, or perhaps is overlaying his own preconceived notions on Diamond's theses. To wit, the example quoted regarding Sowell's work misses Diamond's point completely: trying to determine ultimate causes, not proximate ones. Why did the Europeans have interesting technology and ideas to exchange with each other in the first place? Simply put, you need an agrarian society with sufficient food surplus to promote specialization. Without that the mere presence of rivers is not magically going to result in technological innovation - and there are enough river systems in the Americas, for example, to counter such a hypothesis. Diamond's thesis might seem simplistic to some - to this reader, a scientist by persuasion, on the contrary it is a relief to finally see Occam's Razor being wielded with such precision on a topic much muddied by the social "scientists". The objections raised regarding "other factors" sound similar to those always raised whenever a clean, self-contained and coherent scientific theory has been presented - and not surprisingly it is usually the non-scientists who tend to disagree with such theories, pecking away at them with irrelevant "counterexamples". (Witness the whole evolution "controversy".) What is perhaps most surprising about the negative reviews is the claim that Diamond's book is discounting the achievements of European civilizations - this misses the whole raison d'etre for the book: Why did European societies become and achieve what they did? What was the ULTIMATE cause since at one point in time clearly no particular group had much of an intrinsic advantage over the other? One explanation of course is genetics which seems to becoming more and more laughable as most of the West's universities, research institutes, and tech companies are being more and more manned by non-whites. (Maybe all the Chinese, Indians and other groups mutated in the last 30 years?) My suggestion to readers reading these reviews is simple: keep asking WHY? For each of the putative refutations of Diamond's book, the question "but why?" can be rather illuminating. That is precisely what this book does.
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