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

by Jared M. Diamond (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
22,174329122 (4.12)576
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)
Member:Andrew_Molboski
Title:Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Authors:Jared M. Diamond (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (1999), Edition: 1st, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work Information

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

  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. 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
  18. 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.
  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 25 recommendations)

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» See also 576 mentions

English (302)  Italian (9)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
I really liked this overview of history, not just a lot of names dates and wars but the concepts behind why Europe did so well "discovering" the rest of the world. They were very lucky to have farming, animals and germs.


Compressing 13,000 years of history on all continents into a 400-page book works out to an average of about one page per continent per 150 years, making brevity and simplification inevitable. Yet the compression brings a compensating benefit: long-term comparisons of regions yield insights that cannot be won from short-term studies of single societies.
( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
Jared Diamond makes a compelling case with this book that the unequal development of people of various continents and countries over the millennia is determined by the environmental factors and not by the superiority of some races over others. He has presented many examples and statistics from multiple fields to support his theory.
But, I feel that the reasons detailed in this book are not the only ones to cause such huge disparities among humankind that we've witnessed throughout history.
That said, this is indeed a thought provoking book that, in spite of seeming to address a white audience, has kindled my curiosity about the history of humankind. ( )
  aravind_aar | Nov 21, 2021 |
(61) An oldie but goodie, I guess. Written in the late 1990's - it is an attempted explanation of how essentially people of European ancestry have come to rule the world. Why did that happen? Not white superiority which one cannot necessarily be blamed for thinking if you look at the bald facts.

Instead it has to do with extinction of naive megafauna in the Americas and Australia as they faced newly arrived vicious evolved cavemen as opposed to the gradual co-habitation of large animals and Homo sapiens elsewhere. It has to do with what types of crops and animals could be domesticated in each area. Not many wild African species despite evolving in conjunction with early humans have ever been domesticated; by anyone. In addition, which plants naturally occurring are suitable for crops? - turns out > 20 or so in Europe and Asia and very few elsewhere. And also, once all these things were established - food production, and other technology i.e. weaponry and eventually diseases coming from population density and animal husbandry could easily flow east-west along similar latitudes (i.e. climates) such as in Europe and much more slowly along continents with a north-south axis like the Americas and Africa. And so-Katie-bar-the-door when these peoples arrived on the shore of continents with hunter-gatherer societies. They did what populations throughout the history of time did to 'weaker' populations - they subsumed them.

Incredibly informative, but at times incredibly dry and repetitive. When the narrative was good - such as in the stories about New Guinea and Greenland, it was quite good. But when it was pedantic, it was dull. I.e. the whole last part of the book with the repetitive stroll through all the continents rehashing, and the 'history as a science' epilogue. Yawn.

I most loved stories of the earliest civilization, the Neanderthals, Homo erectus, the cave drawings in France, etc. I need to find more pop archeology to read about this time because it enthralls me. Overall, a worthy read. Glad I finally came to it, albeit belatedly. It really helps me as I contemplate racism. ( )
  jhowell | Nov 13, 2021 |
Environmental Advantages Favored Eurasians

In Jared Diamond’s nicely reasoned unified theory of civilization, the conclusion is pretty straightforward: Eurasians enjoyed a host of environmental advantages enabling them to gain world dominance.

Succinctly, these advantages were foods more easily grown and harvested to feed large populations; abandonment of hunter culture in favor of food production and large organized communities; genetic immunity to civilization killing diseases brought about by crowded living and mingling with domesticated animals; vast expanses of land stretching east to west in the same latitude allowing for easy transfer of technologies in food production, weapons manufacture, and the like; alphabet-based writing better supporting distribution of complex thoughts and transfer of knowledge; and superior large state organizational models.

All in all, he presents a neat theory that dispels ideas of group specialness and the racist views growing out of such thinking. Naturally, some will bridle at a conclusion threading their sense of uniqueness and superiority offensive, but openminded readers will find the conclusion a reasonable explanation as to why history favored people in the expanse of land from England to China.

Readers will learn a good deal as Diamond carefully constructs his argument. Primary among these are the importance of geography, a subject most give little thought. The axial orientations of continents is particularly fascinating. Since most know little about how the foods they eat arrive on their tables, Diamond’s detailed study of crops and animal domestication and how they give advantage to groups will be enlightening, especially by extension how they allow for nurturing large organized states. Too, we give little thought to the animals we raise for food and once used for war and work, but they proved invaluable assets to Eurasians throughout history. Also, while we regard communicable diseases as threats to our very existence, they proved to grant the Eurasian continent a distinct advantage over the Americas in particular. These revelations, and many more, not only help Diamond build his theory, they also will rivet readers with inquisitive minds, because they provide sensible answers to questions these readers probably have about their dominant cultures.

Diamond has done extensive work with New Guineans and brings many of his observations to bear elucidating many of his arguments. Some certainly can, and have, objected to this. However, they should keep in mind that anthropologists have long studied civilizations untouched by modernity to gain a better understanding of how we came to be as we are. Diamond neither breaks new ground in this regard nor does he do anything anybody would think unorthodox. Which is not to say you can’t find to things to argue against, just that this probably isn’t one of them.

All in all, a real education, a credible theory, and a fascinating reading adventure.

( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Environmental Advantages Favored Eurasians

In Jared Diamond’s nicely reasoned unified theory of civilization, the conclusion is pretty straightforward: Eurasians enjoyed a host of environmental advantages enabling them to gain world dominance.

Succinctly, these advantages were foods more easily grown and harvested to feed large populations; abandonment of hunter culture in favor of food production and large organized communities; genetic immunity to civilization killing diseases brought about by crowded living and mingling with domesticated animals; vast expanses of land stretching east to west in the same latitude allowing for easy transfer of technologies in food production, weapons manufacture, and the like; alphabet-based writing better supporting distribution of complex thoughts and transfer of knowledge; and superior large state organizational models.

All in all, he presents a neat theory that dispels ideas of group specialness and the racist views growing out of such thinking. Naturally, some will bridle at a conclusion threading their sense of uniqueness and superiority offensive, but openminded readers will find the conclusion a reasonable explanation as to why history favored people in the expanse of land from England to China.

Readers will learn a good deal as Diamond carefully constructs his argument. Primary among these are the importance of geography, a subject most give little thought. The axial orientations of continents is particularly fascinating. Since most know little about how the foods they eat arrive on their tables, Diamond’s detailed study of crops and animal domestication and how they give advantage to groups will be enlightening, especially by extension how they allow for nurturing large organized states. Too, we give little thought to the animals we raise for food and once used for war and work, but they proved invaluable assets to Eurasians throughout history. Also, while we regard communicable diseases as threats to our very existence, they proved to grant the Eurasian continent a distinct advantage over the Americas in particular. These revelations, and many more, not only help Diamond build his theory, they also will rivet readers with inquisitive minds, because they provide sensible answers to questions these readers probably have about their dominant cultures.

Diamond has done extensive work with New Guineans and brings many of his observations to bear elucidating many of his arguments. Some certainly can, and have, objected to this. However, they should keep in mind that anthropologists have long studied civilizations untouched by modernity to gain a better understanding of how we came to be as we are. Diamond neither breaks new ground in this regard nor does he do anything anybody would think unorthodox. Which is not to say you can’t find to things to argue against, just that this probably isn’t one of them.

All in all, a real education, a credible theory, and a fascinating reading adventure.

( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 302 (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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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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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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