©1997 Jared Diamond; (P)2001 HighBridge Company
"The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding." (The New Yorker)
"Guns, Germs, and Steel is an artful, informative, and delightful book....There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject." (The New York Review of Books)
This book is very good. The subject matter is contested in some circles, but it is very thought provoking. I'd recommend reading the book rather than listening as some passages will have you hitting the reverse button on your player.
This is an excellent book, as is also Collapse by the same author. But it is a good example of a book that is, IMHO, unsuited for audiobook format.
The premise of the book is fascinating and it started out with great promise ... but soon lapsed into a pretty rudimentary review of human history, travel, and evolution. I stopped and started it a lot because it became a bit dull towards the middle. In the end, I don't feel like the author really answered the question he set out to answer. Maybe there was just too much hype ...
This book has many interesting points and observations. However, there are several sections that you just have to endure. Keep with it and it will be worth your while. The narrator is ok, but not very exciting - this makes the slower parts of the book go even slower...
This book presents the theory that geography and distribution of resources, not genetics, is responsible for the vast disparity in wealth that we see today.
The author presents his argument thoroughly and I certainly learned a few things from this book.
Unfortunately, I also found it quite tedious in parts; I remember a seemingly endless recitation of different crops and their development in different parts of the world. By 3/4 of the way through I was contemplating skipping the rest.
Perhaps I lack sufficient interest in this topic. I nonetheless will probably try his other book (about why societies fail IIRC) when it comes out on Audible.
Though feeling good about Diamond's agreement to some of the principles of my book, "The Evolution Diet," I was feeling fairly unimpressed throughout "Guns, Germs, and Steel." The title, seemingly influenced by more appropriately named books by Marvin Harris like "Cannibals and Kings," and "Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches," attempts to clump together things that wouldn't normally be clumped together. In this case, it doesn't really work- some are reasons for why certain cultures thrived, but another is a result. This inconsistency indicates what becomes clear throughout the book, Diamond really doesn't have a strong point.
Sure, Diamond shows how certain foods allowed for the rapid growth of population that was needed for advanced civilizations and comes up with insightful reasons for success like wide East-West expansion in Eurasia, but not in the Americas and Africa. However, Diamond misses the single-most important factor in why some cultures advanced and others didn't: trade. Sure he grazes over the idea and pretty much offers the proof when he shows why Australian peoples failed to thrive despite having enough natural resources. Trade explains why the multicultural and highly populated Eurasian peoples excelled and the others didn't. The proof is seen in the capitals of advanced civilizations, which, throughout history were located at the center of trade routes (the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Arabia, then France, Holland, and England, and eventually America).
Another irksome tendency in "Guns" is Diamond's racial labeling, which is common elsewhere, but brought to the forefront in this book, which focuses on the differences between races.
Overall, "Guns," reveals a fairly insightful look at the history of humans and how cultures got to their respective levels of advancement, but misses the most obvious reason for it throughout. Because of this, Diamond squanders a great opportunity.
Based on its popularity and high reviews, I expected alot from this book. I was disappointed in that it was dully read, and the material was repetitive. There's a lot of space filled by lists, and I learned less than I hoped.
Not only is this book enlightening and entertaining, it might just change the way you live. The descriptions of the advancement of civilization take a logical approach to the question "why have certain peoples advanced seemingly faster than others?" and gives very interesting examples on the way to answering this fairly simple question. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the agricultural advancements and domesticable species.
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