The Main Ideas of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer


The Europeans economic, military, political and technological superiority came from their geographical location. Not because they were in anyway racially or genetically superior to any other race. Other civilizations took more time to develop because of their location, the soil that they had for farming, and also the resources and animals that were available to them for farming. The Europenas weren’t the first ones to start farming but as agriculture started to spread the Europeans were able to adapt to it quickly because of the resources that were available to them.

Yali’s question

Jared Diamond has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and history and has a PhD in physics and biophysics. He also studied ornithology, ecology and environmental history later in his life. After graduation he became a professor at UCLA Medical School for physiology. He has traveled to many places but one important place in his life is New Guinea. In New Guinea he was asked a question by a New Guinean politician named Yali. Yali’s question was, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo … but we black people had little cargo of our own?”. Meaning why have European societies been so militarily, economically, and technologically successful in the last 500 years, while other societies have not approached such a level of achievement? To which he replied to by expanding on the question and studying it for 25 years to collect enough evidence to prove his thesis and wrote this book to explain the answer to Yali’s question to the best of his ability.

In Guns, Germs,and Steel Jared Diamond uses different pieces of evidence to show how European Civilization became more successful due to their geographical location, environmental qualities like soil fertility, availability of domesticable animals, and availability of edible crops. Germs and disease also played a big role in the European superiority because they were able to use them as a weapon to conquer other places.

The Role of Geographic Position

Even though the Sumerians were the ones to develop agriculture they were not able to be superior because of their dry and deset like location. Howeever, Europeans were really lucky in terms of their geography because it determines the destiny. In part two of the book Jared Diamond talks about how it’s easier goods and foods to spread east and west rather than north and south because the Earth spins east and west which means the areas parallel to each other would have a similar temperature and climate. This makes sense because the temperature changes when you go north and south and not east and west. Europe also had less geographical obstacles like the Alps whereas the Americas and Africa had deserts and many mountain ranges like the Sahara, Andes, Rockies and Appalachians. Europe also had more crops available to them for farming and domesticating. Other continents also had crops available them but Europe more for domesticating than anyone else. And once the crops are domesticated they can spread easily because they are easier to cultivate. Other continents like Africa also had animals available to them but they were big and hard to domesticate than the dogs, cows and pigs available in Europe. Since Europe is on a East-West axis the animals and crops can spread faster because they can sustain themselves because they have the same climate. But in the Americas and Africa is not the same case for ex, crops such as dates can grow in North Africa but not South Africa because it can only grow in warm climates.

The Role of Gems

When the Fransico Pizzario and the Spaniards went on an expedition to the Incan Empire, they were able to defeat the Incas easily. This was because Europeans exposed them to new disease which led to many epidemics and outbreaks of new disease which killed a lot of people in South America because they had never been exposed to these diseases so they didn’t build up an immunity to it. The Europeans were in constant proximity to their domesticated animals, sometimes too close (the goat story). Being this close to the animals led to germs being exposed to the society constantly. They were able to build up an immunity to deadly diseases like smallpox. And the people who couldn’t they died and the ones who survived passed it on to the future generation.


In conclusion, the differences of the world are mostly grographic differnces that gives some people a advantage and others a disadvantage. Certain parts of the world started farming earlier than the others but the Europeans were able to be the superior because of their fertile soil and climate. And since the Europeans adapted to farming so quickly they had more time to spend on other things, for ex. Develop new technologies, make a more centralized goverment and gain immunities from deadly disease, which can be used as weapons, because of their close proximities to animals. Because of this some were able to conquer otheres.

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