Summary: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize,Guns, Germs and Steelexamines the rise of civilization and the issues its development has raised throughout history.
Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology. Diamond also dissects racial theories of global history, and the resulting work-Guns, Germs and Steel-is a major contribution to our understanding the evolution of human societies….Read more.
Informing. Interesting. But also a bit boring. This is one of those great books that you “should” read and will be glad you did when you finish. Meanwhile, getting through it can be difficult at points.
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Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, And Steel Audio Book Summary
Have you ever wondered how Eurasian civilizations managed to survive and conquer other seemingly inferior civilizations? If so, you should definitely want to listen to the Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies audiobook. This book by University of California Los Angeles professor, Jared Diamond, explains this phenomenon. Published in 1997, this transdisciplinary book has garnered numerous awards and positive reviews from critics. National Geographic also produced a documentary based on the book and was broadcasted in July 2005.
The prologue tells of Diamondís encounter with Yali, a politician from New Guinea. Their conversation ultimately led to a discussion about the differences in power and technology that are very evident between the people of Yali and the Europeans who conquered the land for two centuries. Neither Yali nor Diamond attributed the differences to any form of genetic superiority of Europeans. Yali posed the question to Diamond, wondering how white people were able to develop so many interventions and manufactured goods when black people barely had their own.
This conversation made diamond realize that it applied elsewhere. People of Eurasian descent were able to dominate in various places in the world, enjoying supreme wealth and power. On the other hand, the people who got thrown off colonial domination remained poor and powerless. In extreme cases, these people had been subjugated and exterminated by conquerors from Europe.
Throughout history, Europeans had shown their dominance over the people of other continents, including New Guineans, Aboriginal Australians, Native Americans and inhabitants of tropical Southeast Asia. They have been deplaced and in some cases, exterminated by Eurasians after adopting a farm-based society. Professor Diamond went on to research about this phenomenon, and he published his findings on his book, Guns, Germs and Steel.
Itís interesting to learn about the rather peculiar title of the book. It is actually a reference to the methods used by farm-based societies to conquer other populations and exert their dominance. There were instances in which Eurasians were immensely outnumbered, but they were still able to successfully conquer other lands due to militarily superiority (guns). Local populations also had no immunity against diseases, giving Eurasians a distinct advantage (germs). They also had a more durable and reliable means of transport, a vital component to imperialism (steel).
Diamond explains that geography, climate and the environment favored the earliest agricultural societies, enabling them to have immunity to diseases and the capability of developing more organized states. He emphasizes that Eurasian hegemony isnít a function of genetic superiority or higher intelligence of Eurasians. Rather, civilizations are influenced by a chain of developments, each of which is made possible by specific preconditions. Ultimately, the shift from a nomadic hunter gatherer society to a permanent agrarian society enabled Eurasian civilizations to be more dominant over other cultures.
Numerous academics expressed their high praises for Professor Diamond. Such a theory required a great amount of research, and Diamond delivered by backing up each of his arguments with scientific data. In 1998, Guns, Germs and Steel won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. It also won the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book in the same year.