Guns, Germs, and Steel Book Review Why do the origins of every major civilization lead to European conquest and settlement? How did Europe somehow gain the upper hand so early in history? Gun, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies delivers a clear theory as to why the Europeans were able to conquer almost the entire world in less then one millennium. Jared Diamond, an esteemed historian takes readers on a journey through time.
Robert D. Kaplan
Guns, germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
He basically rejects any racial explanations in the differences of the material wealth of the industrial world to poorer countries, and in turn concentrated on actual environmental science, history, and geography to formulate a hypothesis. I, of course, agree with this approach and think that the world would be a much better place if we could do this in more day to day issues. However, Diamond and I disagree on some other issues. In his analysis, Diamond paints very broad brush strokes. One specific criticism of mine is that he talks about China with a dismissive attitude and his theories on the suppression of technological progress under the Han Dynasty appears to be unsubstantiated.
Voiceover: Modern history has been shaped by conquest — the conquest of the world by Europeans. The Conquistadors led the way. A few hundred men came to the New World and decimated the native population. The secret of their success?
The book attempts to explain why Eurasian and North African civilizations have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea 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 primarily 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 for example, by facilitating commerce and trade between different cultures and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes. The prologue opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yali , a New Guinean politician.