Guns germs and steel
Guns, Germs, and Steel is a New York Times bestseller, written by Jared Diamond. The book was published in 1999 by W.W Norton and Company located in New York. Diamond shares his views and points in the first 376 pages then goes on with acknowledgments and an index until page 475. The book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, explains why some societies are more materially successful than others. The book is composed as a response to a question that Diamond received from Yali, a New Guinean politician. Yali wanted to know, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo … but we black people had little cargo of our own? He is primarily saying, why have European societies been so economically, and technologically successful in the last 500 years, while other societies have not approached such a level of achievement? To respond to this question, the book attributes societal success to geography, food production, immunity to germs, the domestication of animals, and use of steel. Important points the book brought up included that farming and domesticating animals provide the social stability that was lacking in hunter-gatherer societies. Work specialization permits certain groups to develop weapons. Diamond also stated that Eurasia had a natural advantage in developing agriculture and breeding animals because of geography and the appearance of plants and animals that could be easily domesticated. He goes on throughout the book and explains how the evolution of guns, germs, and steel has greatly influenced societies from progressing.
The main objective of this book was to try to answer a question; the biggest question of history – why history unfolded differently on the different continents over the last thousand years. The usual answer to this question is the answer that many people come up with; they say it is because some people are superior to other people. However what the book proves is that the answer doesn’t have anything to do with people and it has everything to do with people’s environments. Jared Diamond’s purpose in composing this book was to disperse racist ideas about the reason for the European technological power over the rest of the world. His thesis is “History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among the peoples themselves.” Diamond carefully uses the “natural experiment of history” in the Polynesian islands to confirm that in the development of several years, different environmental influences such as climates, ranges from warm tropical or subtropical on some islands all the way to old subantarctic on others. Another example of the environments affect is the differences in the availability of wild plants and animals suitable for domestication. Many of them are in a few areas like the fertile crescent in China and essentially none of them in other areas like the western United States. These all help illustrate his point that environments have a massive effect on the development of equal people. Another difference had to do with the shapes and orientations of the continents – those are perhaps the two biggest factors contributing to the explanation.
Along with providing facts and observations about our world and societies the book also brings out a rather powerful lesson. Although the book is written from an evolutionists perspective, as Christians we should be able to flip it around and look at it from a Christian viewpoint. The foundation of Guns, Germs, and Steel, evolves on the concept that we all began at the same level. Adding on to this, God created each and every one of us. He did not make a certain gender or nationality more supreme than the other. He cared and still cares for us evenly as we are his own children. He has created each and everyone one of us through compassion and love and has made us each individual and unique in our own ways. Therefore, we shouldn’t judge people who are less fortunate by saying they are dull and inactive and that is how they came to their state of being, for we do not know what they have gone through in their lifetime. An example of this can be drawn to the New Guineans. Although they are not a high-class society and do not have all the valuable items we carry, does not mean they are not worthy of it. In fact, they are the most deserving of all the hard work they do to improve their society. New Guineans work long hard hours outside and in fields gathering food and building homes to supply their families. However, they do this not because they deserve to, but because of the geographic content of their land. God created us all from nothing, and we are all sinners, however, we are still all the same, and through geography and economics comes all the differences we each have.
Reading Guns Germs and Steel was quite engaging. Through the book, Diamond let out all his conclusions he had gathered through his studies and drafted them down, despite many points being arguable. The book was a platform to see the way in which he personally viewed the world. This made reading it much more amusing. Diamond’s writing was very distinct and offered many samples. Through this, he made his point simpler to understand. However, the main reason I appreciated this book, was because the author provided a perspective and viewpoint of the world that I never would’ve seen. The answer that geography shaped our world is an answer that I would never have answered if the question approached me. My favorite sections were chapter 2 and chapter 18. Chapter 2 explains how geography molded societies on Polynesian Islands. This was a crucial example in helping understand the book. It provided a look into modern culture today and how it was affected. The context given compared the Moriori and Maori, two societies on different islands. One were hunter-gatherers, while the other turned to farming. The reason of this difference came from the different climate and elevation each island produced. These islands are incredibly diverse, reflecting the environment differences between islands. I also enjoyed chapter 18 of the things I learned while reading it. Learning history, I always knew that diseases played a part in the conquering of America but I didn’t realize it affected so much. Native American societies lacked domesticated large mammals. As a result, Columbus and Pizarro’s expeditions weren’t wiped out by Native American diseases. It was European-borne diseases like smallpox that killed the Native Americans due to their poor immune system. Another reason for the conquering was that the majority of Native Americans were hunter-gatherers and because of the absence of reliable sources of grain, fertile soil, that kept agricultural advances from creating.
Nevertheless, although the book had many exceptional qualities, there were some pieces missing. The book generalized a highly complex topic into a one-word answer. In spite of geography having played a large role in the growth of societies, many other aspects contributed as well. The government was crucial and a very big part in developing modern day nations. The government has ultimately the biggest effect on economies in the modern day. It can affect trade, religion and the culture altogether. Through this nations are able to grow and develop along with the help of geography. Jared Diamond’s hypothesis is overall correct, however, the book makes it very general not including any other reason other than geography to answer Yali’s Question.
From the Five Themes of Geography, three of them mainly applied to the book. The first was movement. This can be connected to the movement of diseases and germs. This caused a great deal in civilizations dying out and being conquered. Movement can also be referred to as the movement of goods and manufacturing. Through this came trade, which was a key part in building a society. Another Theme of Geography presented was human and environment interactions. As plants and crops appeared in areas being settled, farmers began appearing and tending to these plants. From these crops came food to supply families along with animals, and soon animals were being domesticated and used to provide even more food. Therefore the interaction with plants and humans was essential to their survival. Lastly, the region was the most related Theme of Geography in the book. The whole book of Guns, Germs, and Steel revolves around different regions and the characteristics of each one. Each civilization that developed was given a different region, and depending on where they were, each nation adapted to their surrounding by becoming farmers, hunter-gatherers, fishers and so forth.
Overall, reading Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs, and Steel was deserving. Diamond’s objective in writing this book was agreeable and efficient. I learned many things about the beginning of new societies and how they transformed. Along with educational items, I learned a universal lesson about God’s love and fairness to all. The book was clear to the point and gave many examples. Although the answer to the stories theme was broad, I had many favorite parts throughout. The Themes of Geography were integrated all throughout the book making it an enjoyable account. This book contributes so much more than any usual book. It provides an answer to history’s most complex question. Hence, I strongly enjoyed Jared Diamond’s work for all it has to offer.
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Guns, Germs, and Steel is a New York Times bestseller, written by Jared Diamond. The book was published in 1999 by W.W Norton and Company located in New York. Diamond […]