Taking Diamond's theory seriously means we'd have to view imperialism as natural and unavoidable, like the predation of animals, and be unable to criticize any culture's actions whatever. International Relations scholars of the London School of Economics and Political Science and Einar Wigen of University of Oslo use Guns, Germs, and Steel as a foil for their own inter-disciplinary work. So either there is co- evolution. In all of human history only 14 large mammals have ever been domesticated: sheep, goat, cattle, pigs, horses, camels Arabian and Bactrian , llamas, donkeys, reindeer, water buffalo, yaks, and two minor relatives of cattle in southeast Asia called Bali cattle and mithrans. Did Jared Diamond, writing in the late 1990's, just describe the United States today? That is linked with colonialism. As an explanation of why the world is the way it is, it is an utter and complete failure.
What makes its approach fresh is that the analysis is from someone who is neither an economist nor a historian. After some initial victories, which Diamond lavishly describes, thousands of natives joined the tiny European garrisons. The nations considered are Finland, Japan, Chile, Indonesia, Germany, Australia, and the U. Just the epilogue of the ebook seems to cover the subject matter well enough. As he points out, in the early 15th century, China was ready to explore the world, but political infighting in their unified government killed the exploration party almost a century before Columbus set out. Diamond believes that it all boils down to the geography that gave the Europeans what they needed for guns, germs, and steel.
Diamond claims that this is an anti-racist theory because it points out that white people were just lucky, not inherently more deserving or more talented or more resourceful than people anywhere else in the world. The style is not academic and did admittedly put me off by using sen It took me a while to complete Diamond's book and admittedly I also distracted myself with a few Roth novels in the meantime because of the density of the text and the variety of ideas presented. It is an academic read, to be sure, but I found it optimally dense so as not to turn away readers less interested in every detail. Namely, as opposed to the Eurasian east-west latitudinal axis, the African and the American axis is longitudinal, i. How about the evolution of ideas, or the impact of great leaders and inventors? Tendency to panic: No deer or gazelle burgers either. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal He never said it was geographically disposed towards poverty and backwardness, just that the geography inhibits the spread of domesticated crops that He never said it was geographically disposed towards poverty and backwardness, just that the geography inhibits the spread of domesticated crops that are vital for agriculture and contained much less domestic-able animals than Eurasia, thereby severely limiting the speed of it's development. A short history of the world.
Mann's 1491 immediately before Guns, Germs, and Steel, I was all-too aware of the dated nature of many of Diamond's assumptions about the New World. However, it was quite difficult for things to spread to the Americas because of large oceans and the only close landmass being in cold climates and at high latitudes unsuitable for farming. Was one group of people smarter than another? Guns, Germs, and Steel sits above the vault of human history, providing first-stage explanations to account for its winners and losers. A contradiction here is that fatalistic viewpoints are incompatible with moral pronouncements. It helps that there is an easily navigable river system, and also that there are no impassible deserts or mountain ranges.
Agricultural societies then gained tremendous advantages over non-agricultural societies, because the increase in leisure time enabled people to develop technologies and centralized political structures, and the proximity to animals gave people immunities to deadly diseases. So we didn't get diseases from llamas, but we did get diseases from pigs and sheep. For instance Jews stopped eating pigs because it became so costly to feed pigs they themselves were starving. You guessed it: man showed up via the Bering Strait. There are layers of problematic assumptions and unconscious Eurocentrism underlying his writing, layers which make Guns, Germs, and Steel an uneasy read: you for the reader whom Diamond seems to hypothesise in the book is a white Westerner--there's no sense that a PoC from, say, Malaysia or Egypt might have picked it up should not feel a sense of accountability or responsibility or guilt for colonialism or imperialism or the ongoing exploitation of most of the world's population by those living in the developed world.
In sharp contrast with the heavily race-dependent, empirically vacuous speculations still in circulation, Diamond's core idea is that geographic advantage proved the decisive factor in shaping the major outlines of history. Table Of Contents: Prologue: Yali's Question: The regionally differing courses of history 13 Ch. If you make a complex argument, there will be people out there who will simplify and misuse it. The maps and tables are a little thin on resources but the author tries to provide a reading list toward the end of the book for each chapter. Environmental differences between Polynesian islands partly explain differences in subsistence.
The reason is easy to understand if one understands geography. The central thesis that it is not racial biology that determines the victors in history but rather a complex combination of agriculture, geography, population density, and continental orientation is a fascinating and compelling one. And Republican and Early Imperial Rome did not rise to military supremacy due to a superior use of cavalry. They recognized that their biggest disadvantage was public health. I cannot comment much about the contents, there are a lot of reviews that describe the contents well. Ancient agricultural societies tend to develop into large, complex states.
The main thesis of the author is that geographic aspects represent the overwhelming ultimate set of causal factors, and they played out mostly at the very beginning of societal development, mainly in prehistoric times. Rather, it was all about agriculture, a geographical accident. It improves our ability to take effective action. In other words, a little fragmentation is good; too much centralized power is not. In Eurasia, the number made for a critical mass which led to earlier civilization. I definitely learned many interesting things and gained a better appreciation of geographical factors as significant determinants in the development of human societies. This seed of doubt concerning the accuracy of Diamond's assumptions about the Americas prevented me from fully appreciating what he had to say abou Having read Charles C.
In low-res, highly paraphrased form, it can be sketched as follows: Whereas the hunter-gatherer existence was nomadic, food production gave rise to more sedentary societies. So constant connection to others and trading of ideas and resources is essential for technological and creative progress. Second, since Europe is oriented East-West rather than North-South, a species which is domesticated in one part of Europe has a good chance of thriving in another, so there are many opportunities to swap farming technology between different areas. Agriculture and controlled farming was more efficient than hunting and gathering and so social specialization appeared; a small group controlled the workers and owned the land, and a larger group of peasants worked for the first group. These early peoples also learned how to domesticate wild animals, breeding familiar modern animals like dogs, cows, and horses. It just removes the douche-y social Darwinist parts.
Diamond is condemnatory of the Spanish incursion into Mayan lands, but the logical consequence of his theory is that the Mayans would have done the same to the Spanish if they had been first to develop the musket and frigate. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate. I don't actually think that's fair. Given his extensive background in botany and geology, it makes sense that he would look for the impact of those factors in the human story. Their lives were tough, and it seemed a terrible paradox of history that these extraordinary people should be the conquered, and not the conquerors.