Learning History Through “Guns, Germs And Steel” by Jared Diamond

An amazing book suggestion that came to me and I have really enjoyed reading it. When I heard about the book itself, I was curious to read it but I had thought that this will be a documentary type book with lot of good information but I will need to spend some quality time reading it, meaning that it will give information but may not be fun. But the book turned out to be fun reading due to the style of writing by Jared Diamond.

“Guns, Germs and Steel”, is a book that is trying to bust the myth that Eurasians had better genes that enabled them to conquer the world in last few centuries. Through various logical reasons extending throughout the history after Ice-age, the author is trying to prove that it is the geography and environment of some regions that resulted in bigger and stronger civilizations in Europe, Asia and North Africa. These were the same reasons that resulted in slower development of agriculture, weaponry, science in other continents.

His logic about spread of science and agriculture throughout Europe and Asia due to the width of continent and almost similar weather conditions due to same latitude is very convincing. America and Australia did not have that advantage. I also liked his logic where he tells about why Australia did not have large mammals. His logic is that when human beings reached Australia, they had rudimentary weapons to kill large animals but animals living there were not used to humans and did not save themselves by running away. In Africa, animals had learnt better as human beings learnt slowly through generations to kill them.

His logic about spreading of diseases, rise of agriculture based economy resulting in large empires are really very convincing. He starts from the basics of types of grains popular in certain regions of the world that became major crops and how humans were able to domesticate only few animals and use them for power.

It is an amazing book if you really want to understand the history of civilization through environmental and geographical factors devoid of any bias towards religion, politics or race. This is the book that tells you whey history and geography should be studied together.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Learning History Through “Guns, Germs And Steel” by Jared Diamond

  1. A truly excellent book. My favourite Jared Diamond quote at the moment is:

    “In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy-like substance on a cliff, licked or ate the balls, and discovered them to be sweet-tasting, but then they developed nausea. Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made by small rodents, called packrats … Not being toilet trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out … In effect, the hungry gold miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.”

    – Collapse by Jared Diamond

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