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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.

Series: Civilizations Rise and Fall (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
22,516337124 (4.12)582
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)
Recently added bySanjive, private library, keithhanson, cloidl, sotirop, Brumby18, EllsbethB, montereypinegreen
Legacy LibrariesTim Spalding
  1. 150
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared M. Diamond (infiniteletters)
  2. 132
    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (VisibleGhost, electronicmemory)
  3. 94
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Percevan)
  4. 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)
  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. 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.
  7. 40
    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
  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. 30
    Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark (infiniteletters)
  10. 20
    The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby (John_Vaughan)
  11. 20
    From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun (MusicMom41)
    MusicMom41: Guns, Germs and Steel makes a great “prelude’ to Barzun’s book From Dawn to Decadence.
  12. 20
    The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes (Percevan)
  13. 10
    The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything by Adrian Bejan (br77rino)
  14. 10
    The horse, the wheel and language by David W. Anthony (tcg17321)
  15. 10
    Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade (IslandDave)
  16. 10
    Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths (hohlwelt)
    hohlwelt: Complements very well with what Jared Diamond misses and vice versa.
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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).
  20. 00
    Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect by Paul R. Ehrlich (bookcrushblog)

(see all 26 recommendations)

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» See also 582 mentions

English (309)  Italian (9)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (336)
Showing 1-5 of 309 (next | show all)
I’d love to give this book 3 stars since I largely agree with Diamond’s arguments, but his simplistic argumentation and lack of any citations was extremely jarring. Moreover his recommendation of The Bell Curve in ‘further reading’ with no discussion whatsoever left a sour taste. ( )
1 vote woj2000 | Mar 24, 2022 |
Enjoyed the tour of different factors that may explain different outcomes across human civilizations up to now. If you, consciously or otherwise, had a pet theory that explained what you knew, you may want to reconsider after being introduced to other possible explanations. I think the book fell short on explaining how different facts came to be known, and in not attempting to quantify the relative magnitudes of the different proposed effects. ( )
  orm_tmr | Mar 16, 2022 |
A classic account of how the world got to be the way it was, and how human activity was shaped by geography and the distribution of plant and animal species, which in turn shaped the rise of contagious diseases and the adoption of technology. The account weaves together anthropology, archaeology, epidemiology and more.

Diamond seeks to demonstrate that the certain peoples came to dominate the planet because of these characteristics, and hence disprove racial explanations. In this he is only partly successful. He does not address race directly or how different races came into being. Diamond himself can fall back into his own racial stereotypes - such as observing that the average New Guinean is smarter than the average European. He tells a story of how plants and animals have evolved over thousands of years to be more productive through their contact with people, but chooses not to explore whether humans themselves can also evolve useful characteristics over the same time scales.

Finally, the book is now over 20 years old. It captured a great deal of current scientific research at the time of publication, but science has not stood still. If anything, this publication is likely to have provoked more research. A successor book looks like it will be be needed. ( )
  dunnmj | Mar 10, 2022 |
A great insightful book giving a great explanation as to why the world turned out the way it did. Although I skipped the last hundred pages cause it really started to ditch the thesis of the book into more general history of China and Africa ( )
  pgarri16 | Mar 5, 2022 |
Through precise language and broad analysis, Guns, Germs and Steel swept away the last lingering cobwebs of European exceptionalism that I had accumulated in the unexamined corners of my mind. So much of my high school history had received an implicit narrative arc, usually terminating with the US, that a directionless recounting was kind of revelatory. ( )
1 vote cathect | Mar 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 309 (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
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)
A suitable starting point from which to compare historical developments on the different continents is around 11,000 B.C.
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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.

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A lavishly illustrated 20th anniversary edition of Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exploration of how and why Eurasians developed the weapons, diseases and technologies that enabled them to dominate the rest of the world.
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W.W. Norton

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

Editions: 0393317552, 0393061310

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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