The combination of specialization and population growth leads to the accumulation of social and technologic innovations which build on each other. Synopsis[ edit ] The prologue opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yalia New Guinean politician.
I am always nervous when biologists turn their attention to history or anthropology. Great discussion of science in the last half of the epilogue. The Incas built a great civilization without writing. In Africa, too, European imperial troops often of African or Indian origin exploited only a limited and short-lived technical superiority in weaponry that lasted from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries.
Large societies develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracieswhich in turn lead to the organization of nation-states and empires. It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.
Where did these diseases come from, and why did so few travel in the other direction? Jared Diamond starts with a proposition every good Guardian reader would wish to believe — that all humans are born with much the same abilities — and then proceeds to argue, through meticulous and logical steps, that the playing field of prehistory was anything but level.
Many people mistakenly assume that discussing history is just a way to explain away tough issues. Meanwhile, the Fertile Crescent had four of them at the end of the last ice age, mooing and bleating and oinking for human attention.
The big feature focuses on evidence for permanent houses of stone, built by hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent 14, years ago, long before the emergence of agriculture. Writing systems are historically seen as the deciding factor on whether an ancients civilization is considered advanced or not.
Several conditions are necessary for this transition to occur: It had emmer and einkorn, species of grass with heavy seeds. In many areas of life, success is not about doing one thing correctly, but about avoiding many possible modes of failure.
He also hints briefly at a role for alternatives to environmental explanations, namely "cultural factors and idiosyncratic individuals".
The result is an exciting and absorbing account of human history since the Pleistocene age, which culminates in a sketch of a future scientific basis for studying the history of humans that will command the same intellectual respect as current scientific studies of the history of other natural phenomena such as dinosaurs, nebulas and glaciers.
May Related reviews. There are a number of difficulties here.
Higher population densities in Eurasia created a niche for new diseases, the presence of domestic animals provided a reservoir of suitable candidates, and their spread was assisted by good cross-continental communications. He describes where and when food production originated, how it spread with demographic expansion and by emulation, and why it never took off in some regions.
In his introduction Diamond writes that "since Toynbee's attempt, worldwide syntheses of historical causation have fallen into disfavor among most historians, as posing an apparently intractable problem". The result was a swag of crops including protein-rich cereals and pulses; other regions New Guinea and the eastern United States are his examples lacked such a crop suite.
The Sahara kept people from migrating north to the Fertile Crescentuntil later when the Nile River valley became accommodating. Given the magnitude of the task he has set himself, it is inevitable that Professor Diamond uses very broad brush-stokes to fill in his argument.
The improved agricultural aspects led to larger populations and larger armies in Europe and Asia. Bush has been working hard to try and smooth things out.
This accident made them dish of the day for foraging nomads, and then ideal for the first, tentative plantations by the hunters and gatherers who so casually launched human civilisation some time after the end of the last ice age.
Not all the argument is quite as beautifully constructed as the passages that deal with plants and animals. Eurasian grains were richer in protein, easier to sow, and easier to store than American maize or tropical bananas. An important example is the use of larger animals such as cattle and horses in plowing land, allowing for much greater crop productivity and the ability to farm a much wider variety of land and soil types than would be possible solely by human muscle power.
Within two centuries, 95 percent of the native population had died, most of them from infectious diseases. Surely it was to see off such thinking that prompted a club member to propose this book in the first place?
Therefore, none of the many African mammals such as the zebraantelopecape buffaloand African elephant were ever domesticated although some can be tamed, they are not easily bred in captivity.
My own background as an historian of European expansion and Asian response over the last two hundred years requires me to take most of the account of prehistory on trust - which is a drawback since Diamond asserts that most of the really important influences on modern history had already occurred before the birth of Christ.
This led people to domestic earlier in those regions.
Damn, can he have meant that? This is an ambitious project, and no reviewer can comment on all of it with equal authority.- Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel This is one of those books “In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and 4/5(K).
The book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies” is a very reliable book by the scholar author Jared M. Diamond that throws light on the geographical and environmental factors that culminated into the shaping of the modern civilization.
A book seeking to answer such questions would have to add a fourth totem of Western progress to its title and be called, perhaps, Guns, Germs, Steel and Coca-Cola. This is my book summary of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts.
This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.
This is a list of authors, books, and concepts mentioned in Guns. O h, for more history written by biologists. The great thing about Guns, Germs and Steel is the detail: Jared Diamond starts with a proposition every good Guardian reader would wish to believe.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (also titled Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13, years) is a transdisciplinary non-fiction book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).Download