This was a fascinating book on the history of civilizations. If someone holds a prejudice about certain races or people being superior based on the fact that their culture dominated the world, then this book will put a major dent into that thinking. Jared Diamond makes a compelling case that the societies which came to dominate the modern world did so by advantages in their environment.
Overall, this book helped explain why some societies came to dominate others. It was not due to an innate advantage in intelligence from one population to another. Instead, certain areas of the world were easier to civilize than others. Once a society had the means of producing excess food, civilization could advance. Some people were conquered, while others adapted to new technologies and advanced it themselves.
I would definitely recommend this book to any reader interested in how today's societies came about. It will help debating racists that claim that one race's conquering another means they are innately superior. For me, this book gave a foundation in early civilizations that is lacking when studying them independently.
This book could be summarized in a few paragraphs, however it is always interesting to learn about the world from a different perspective. I enjoyed learning why different civilizations reached the status they did and why countries are at different stages of development and/or economy.
Good book. Audio very faulty. Half way through recording audio crackles and breaks up. Also the narrator is just horrible. Very disappointed by Audible for first time in twenty audio books.
Trimming 100 pages and several hours of narration by omitting endless lists of plant and animal species.
I am thoroughly interested in this topic as I am an evolutionary biologist who has taken coursework on molecular anthropology. I was highly recommended this book and decided to give it a try. It has good material and does a okay job of addressing all the important milestones throughout civilization, but it is tremendously boring. It should be retitled "Plants, animals, and agriculture" as these topics dominated the text. Since 1998, there has been a wealth of genetic data published as a result of the human genome project. These data more clearly address the questions raised in this book. While these data are more recent, there was still available studies on human genetic data in the 1990's that could have illustrated some of these points better. At the end of the book I will still unable to answer Rowlie's (sp?) question. If I had the time, I would go through an identify all the hypotheses in the text that have been subsequently refuted by genomic data.
people who like to hear lists of boring facts about agriculture
there was not much story
the story about Pizzaro and the Incas. (pretty sure it was the only "story" in the book)
this book should be called "Agriculture, Agriculture, and New Guinea", because that's all it was about. The title (and the cover to some extent) leads you to believe that there will be stories and anecdotes that explain the evolution of mankind through significant events, battles, plagues and inventions. Basically the book states that everything has to do with agriculture. There are hardly any references to guns, germs, or steel, in regard to their influence on man, but if you want to know how much millet can come out of china, this is the book for you!
I believe that the scientific/mechanistic approach represents the most powerful tool humans have stumbled upon so far!
I enjoyed the book very much because of the thinking tools that are presented and utilized. The author's approach to look for (and find) decisive forces/circumstances which shaped human thinking and way of life (i.e. culture) shows the value of the historical sciences to our present day reality. I'd like to see more historical literature with similar presentation instead of the propagandist way in which history (in general) is taught today...
I liked how Jared Diamond showed the myriad of circumstances necessary in order for humans (regardless of "racial" characteristics) to become inventive and move along the path which has led us to what we call civilization. He showed over and over that our present day reality was not shaped by people on morally higher ground (as surely many believe) but by people who happened to be in the "right" place and time. I very much enjoyed the way Diamond debunked some of the racial arguments still present (maybe even prevailing) in today's society.
I enjoyed listening to Doug.
I believe that this book should be read/listened to or at least people should be presented to the ideas of the book so that we can gain better understanding of each others' beliefs and behavior