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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human…

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997)

by Jared Diamond

Other authors: Mie Hidle (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
18,905272117 (4.13)521
  1. 130
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (infiniteletters)
  2. 112
    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (VisibleGhost, electronicmemory)
  3. 84
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Percevan)
  4. 40
    Maps of Time : An Introduction to Big History by David Christian (questbird)
    questbird: Big History is a multidisciplinary approach (like Diamond's) which integrates the origin of the universe, deep time, human prehistory and history.
  5. 40
    The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan (TomWaitsTables)
  6. 51
    The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes (Oct326)
    Oct326: La tesi centrale del saggio di Diamond è che la causa dominante dei disuguali gradi di sviluppo tra popolazioni umane sia data dalle condizioni ambientali più o meno favorevoli. Il saggio di Landes ha un argomento un po' differente, e cioè il disuguale grado di sviluppo economico e di ricchezza tra popolazioni. Ma sulle cause di queste differenze è più articolato, e mette in rilievo l'importanza dei fattori culturali. È un punto di vista piuttosto diverso, e questo rende interessante il confronto tra le due opere.… (more)
  7. 30
    Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark (infiniteletters)
  8. 30
    The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by William H. McNeill (wildbill)
    wildbill: William McNeill chronicles the struggle between nomad and sedentary peoples in a book that continues the themes of Guns, Germs and Steel
  9. 42
    The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker (Percevan)
    Percevan: Both books are eminently throwing light on the big lines in human history
  10. 20
    The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby (John_Vaughan)
  11. 10
    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Percevan)
    Percevan: Both books are eminently throwing light on the big lines in human history
  12. 10
    Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade (IslandDave)
  13. 10
    Children of the Ice Age: How a Global Catastrophe Allowed Humans to Evolve by Steven M. Stanley (br77rino)
    br77rino: Children of the Ice Age is an excellent anthropological discussion of the link that became homo sapiens. Guns, Germs, and Steel covers the more recent territory of racial evolution within homo sapiens.
  14. 10
    From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life—1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun (MusicMom41)
    MusicMom41: Guns, Germs and Steel makes a great “prelude’ to Barzun’s book From Dawn to Decadence.
  15. 10
    The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes (Percevan)
  16. 00
    The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything by Adrian Bejan (br77rino)
  17. 00
    Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich (Cynfelyn)
    Cynfelyn: Who We Are and How We Got Here (2018) is a genetic interpretation successor to the cultural interpretation of Guns, Germs and Steel (1997).
  18. 00
    Four Thousand Years Ago by Geoffrey Bibby (nessreader)
  19. 00
    A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright (thebookpile)
  20. 00
    Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect by Paul R. Ehrlich (bookcrushblog)

(see all 24 recommendations)


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» See also 521 mentions

English (251)  Italian (7)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (3)  French (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (272)
Showing 1-5 of 251 (next | show all)
The author goes into great depth on the topic. I've decided I do not want to devote the time to take it all in. It is not that he is wasting words. He covers the information thoroughly. I just found that I was not interested after reading 15% of the book.
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
3.5 stars. A good book to read, but I still find it a bit dry. I also thought Diamond was reaching with some of his comments in the Afterword, i.e. trying to extend the concepts of his book a bit too far. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Lots of great ideas. I've heard it criticised for not being rigorous enough, and I thought it was too wordy full stop but the author acknowledges all of this and the big picture I don't know how you would get the picture without all the words. ( )
  andrewlorien | Oct 7, 2017 |
This book shows how the early advent of agriculture and food production in Eurasia set the trajectory for Europeans to dominate the world. It describes how agriculture produced developed societies with weapons, religion, and diseases that ultimately helped conquer the civilizations of the New World. ( )
  sarah.f.rich | Aug 10, 2017 |
Dr. Diamond. Now there’s a name begging to be assigned a character in a superhero movie. Jared Diamond might agree.

Guns, Germs, and Steel derives from a thesis Dr. Diamond has about how some societies were able to accumulate so much “cargo” compared to other peoples. He attempts to dissuade readers from ideas that individual or cultural superiority must be the basis of explanation.

This is a good topic but my interest in his argument fell off in proportion to the number of pages read. Not an obstacle, though. Dr. Diamond so often presented fun ideas and information that a thematic excuse to continue on wasn’t needed.

As one example of what I found fun: why zebras did not come to serve as the African horse.
“Zebras have the unpleasant habit of biting a person and not letting go. They thereby injure even more American zookeepers each year than do tigers! Zebras are also virtually impossible to lasso with a rope—even for cowboys who win rodeo championships by lassoing horses—because of their unfailing ability to watch the rope noose fly toward them and then to duck their head out of the way.”

Pretty damn good, zebras. Born to be wild!

ALTHOUGH, I must point out, in the movie Hatari a zebra is lassoed by the character played by John Wayne. Now, no shame being lassoed by the Duke, of course. And it’s possible the movie exercised some sleight of hand to fool us. Maybe it was a zebra-striped horse (it really does look like a zebra though). Or maybe, just maybe, the “unfailing” zebras sometimes fail when chased a long distance by a bunch of people in a truck, a technique not available to ancient Africans. Is Dr. Diamond still interested? He should discuss this.

One annoyance was the book’s misleading title, which could better have been Germs! Germs! Germs! And Other Stuff. As a kid I didn’t like germs but I liked guns (the plastic toys) and I liked steel. The boy in me wanted to read about the stuff I’d liked. But those grim germs run rampant here, laying waste to the guns and the steel and their metaphorical counterparts.

Nor does it help that at times Dr. Diamond will talk so much about a single subject that the reader is apt to expire before finishing. His aim is to convince and if entertainment suffers from the effort, so be it.

The merit of the book is that the author gives well-articulated reasons in the effort to convince and he entertains often enough. Even when he fails and writes something dull or irritating, it’s easy to be forgiving because there will be something good coming up again. For example: “With the rise of chiefdoms around 7,500 years ago, people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them.”

Let us bow to the chiefdoms! Without them, how could road trips be the attraction they are today? ( )
2 vote dypaloh | Aug 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 251 (next | show all)
In ''Guns, Germs, and Steel,'' an ambitious, highly important book, Jared Diamond asks: How did Pizarro come to be at Cajamarca capturing Atahualpa, instead of Atahualpa in Madrid capturing King Charles I? Why, indeed, did Europeans (and especially western Europeans) and Asians always triumph in their historical conquests of other populations? Why weren't Native Americans, Africans and aboriginal Australians instead the ones who enslaved or exterminated the Europeans?
Jared Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope: a history of the world in less than 500 pages which succeeds admirably, where so many others have failed, in analysing some of the basic workings of cultural process. . . It is willing to simplify and to generalize; and it does reach conclusions, about ultimate as well as proximate causes, that carry great conviction, and that have rarely, perhaps never, been stated so coherently or effectively before. For that reason, and with few reservations, this book may be welcomed as one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years.
added by jlelliott | editNature, Colin Renfrew (Mar 27, 1997)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jared Diamondprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mie HidleTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cavalli-Sforza, Francescosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi L.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chueca, FabiánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Civalleri, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansson, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Esa, Kariniga, Omwai, Paran, Sauakari, Wiwor, and all my other New Guinea friends and teachers - masters of a difficult environment.
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This book attempts to provide a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. (Preface to the Paperback Edition)
We all know that history has proceeded very differently for peoples from different parts of the globe. (Prologue to the Hardback Edition)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Mobilisant des disciplines aussi diverses que la génétique ,l la biologie moléculaire , l'écologie l'écologies des comportements , l'épidémiologie , la linguistique , et l'histoire des civilisations , à l'ère de la globalisaton , Jared Diamond vous propose opportunément cet essai , en tout point singulier ,sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les sociétés .
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393061310, Hardcover)

Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist's answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye--and his heart--belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:33 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Why did Eurasians conquer, displace, or decimate Native Americans, Australians, and Africans, instead of the reverse? In this groundbreaking book, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for history's broadest patterns. Here, at last, is a world history that really is a history of all the world's peoples, a unified narrative of human life even more intriguing and important than accounts of dinosaurs and glaciers. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world, and its inequalities, came to be. It is a work rich in dramatic revelations that will fascinate readers even as it challenges conventional wisdom.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393317552, 0393061310

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