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

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (original 1997; edition 1999)

by Jared M. Diamond

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
19,447285118 (4.13)545
Title:Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Authors:Jared M. Diamond
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (1999), Edition: Later printing, Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

  1. 140
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (infiniteletters)
  2. 122
    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
    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
  8. 30
    Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark (infiniteletters)
  9. 20
    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.
  10. 20
    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
  11. 20
    The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby (John_Vaughan)
  12. 43
    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
  13. 10
    Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade (IslandDave)
  14. 10
    The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything by Adrian Bejan (br77rino)
  15. 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.
  16. 10
    The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes (Percevan)
  17. 10
    Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths (hohlwelt)
    hohlwelt: Complements very well with what Jared Diamond misses and vice versa.
  18. 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).
  19. 00
    Four Thousand Years Ago by Geoffrey Bibby (nessreader)
  20. 00
    Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu (Serviette, longway)

(see all 24 recommendations)


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» See also 545 mentions

English (261)  Italian (9)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
I loved the subject matter and well argued theories. My only complaint is that it reads too much like a textbook. ( )
  Brauer11431 | Apr 16, 2019 |
This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour through 13,000 years of history on all the continents – a short history of everything about everybody. The origins of empires, religion, writing, crops, and guns are all here. By at last providing a convincing explanation for the different developments of human societies on different continents, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history. It's account of how the modern world was formed is full of lessons for our own future. After reading the first two pages, you will be able to put it down. – Paul Ehrlich
  PendleHillLibrary | Apr 9, 2019 |
Why did Europeans spread all over the world, and not Polynesians or Aztecs? Because they had guns, germs and steel, which those other societies did not. But why did they have them? Jared Diamond traces the advantage back to early and wide adoption of food production, which in turn was based on environmental conditions, and not innate abilities. Food production enables the feeding of specialists who are not themselves food producers, thus enabling the development of new technologies, such as metal working and writing, which in turn accelerate development.

Food production developed earliest in the fertile crescent in South-West Asia, and spread quickly towards east and west within the temperate zone, on the largest continent with only mild physical barriers. So Europe, North Africa, South and East Asia, China all quickly acquired it. It turns out that the fertile crescent had an abundance of domesticable plant and animal species - something all other areas were poor in or completely lacked. Subsaharan Africa, for instance, only domesticated sorghum, millet and yams, all less nutritious as harder to produce than wheat and barley. And only Euroasians had animals capable of pulling plows or being ridden. The horse was a tremendous advantage in agriculture, transportation, and war, and the rest of the world simply did not have them.

Diamond compares and contrasts environments, the spread of humans, and their state of food production and technology among all inhabited continents. He talks a lot about Polynesia, New Guinea and Australia, because the environment there produced many isolated areas where human development attained numerous forms. He reviews societal development from bands through chiefdoms to states. He uses many different sciences to trace prehistoric human movements: ethnography, biology, linguistics, archeology. He talks lengthily of traits that qualify or disqualify plants and animals from domestication.

There are many fantastic revelations. I found it very interesting that food producing societies that settled areas that were difficult or impossible to cultivate, reverted to hunting-gathering. Or that while the Mayans invented the wheel, it was not adopted due to lack of draft animals. I had no idea that the highly infectious diseases that destroyed other cultures developed from domestic animal diseases, to which their keepers - Europians and Asians - had developed resistance, but societies without domestic animals did not. I also learned that the analysis of languages could yield a huge amount of historic info.

Fascinating and tremendously educational, although sometimes a bit too technical at the expense of narrative. Once you have read it though, you will never think of rich vs. poor countries the same way again. ( )
  Gezemice | Mar 8, 2019 |
Hey, he starts off using the Holocene Calendar!


Interesting answer to Yali's question of why white folks had so much cargo when black folks had so little, via the Anna Kerrinina principle of interlocking factors: no genetic group is more or less intelligent, on average (shown by years of testing), but population density and farming based on local geographical factors tend to determine the technologies which are developed following the animals, mineral and vegetable or soil resources. Also taken into account is that germs develop very differently with diffferent population densities, and more food requires more and better storage techniques and leads to development of beauracracy as well as expansionist tendencies which become more aggresssive with higher population density.

6 August, 12017 HE
(the Holocene Calendar) ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Comienza muy bien, pero después de la mitad del libro comienza a repetir... ( )
  maxtrek | Jan 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 261 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jared Diamondprimary authorall editionscalculated
Diamond. Jaredmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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.
First words
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)
A suitable starting point from which to compare historical developments on the different continents is around 11,000 B.C.
Yali's question went to the heart of the current human condition, and of post-Pleistocene history. (Epilogue)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» 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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