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Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies | [Jared Diamond]

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1998

Guns, Germs and Steel examines the rise of civilization and the issues its development has raised throughout history.

Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology. Diamond also dissects racial theories of global history, and the resulting work—Guns, Germs and Steel—is a major contribution to our understanding the evolution of human societies.

©1997 Jared Diamond (P)2011 Random House

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1273 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Catherine D. Schafer 09-21-12 Member Since 2011

    Truck Driver

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Bloody wonderful!"
    What did you love best about Guns, Germs and Steel?

    Jared Diamond is amazing. He takes highly complex issues and describes them with prose that imply simplicity and dignity. He makes complex and difficult social issues understandable to people like me.


    What other book might you compare Guns, Germs and Steel to and why?

    I purchased this audio book based on an Audible recommendation. I subsequently purchased all other works he has authored on Amazon.


    Which character – as performed by Doug Ordunio – was your favorite?

    The narration is neutral. That is how it should be.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    NAT GEO already did. The tag line from that should be: READ THE BOOK!


    Any additional comments?

    He simplifies complex scientific thinking without diluting the important facts.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Abilene, TX, United States 02-22-12
    Joseph Abilene, TX, United States 02-22-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Like a spoon...long with no point"
    Would you try another book from Jared Diamond and/or Doug Ordunio?

    This book was impossible because it had almost no direction. It jumps from subject to subject. Typical professorial rambling. (I'm a professor. I can spot it from a mile away.)


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 05-07-15
    Jennifer 05-07-15 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting take on history"

    Made me wish this was taught in high school instead of what we got in History class. Enlightening and full of surprising details.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom NJ, USA 04-01-15
    Tom NJ, USA 04-01-15 Member Since 2013

    sailor tech

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Explains How Civilization Succeeds and Why"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 03-12-15
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 03-12-15 Member Since 2008

    Nando

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    "Informative and interesting."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MI USA 03-12-15
    Amazon Customer MI USA 03-12-15 Member Since 2015

    Kia Dragon

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    "Crackly audio. Good subject, audio very bad."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taj Gainesville, Florida, United States 03-06-15
    Taj Gainesville, Florida, United States 03-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Please retitle "Plants, Animals, and Agriculture""
    What would have made Guns, Germs and Steel better?

    Trimming 100 pages and several hours of narration by omitting endless lists of plant and animal species.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Godsy 02-10-15
    Joe Godsy 02-10-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Story
    "misleading title"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    people who like to hear lists of boring facts about agriculture


    What was most disappointing about Jared Diamond’s story?

    there was not much story


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the story about Pizzaro and the Incas. (pretty sure it was the only "story" in the book)


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    pure boredom


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Murad Redzheb Leuven, Belgium 01-30-15
    Murad Redzheb Leuven, Belgium 01-30-15 Member Since 2014

    I believe that the scientific/mechanistic approach represents the most powerful tool humans have stumbled upon so far!

    ratings
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    "The role of the historical sciences"
    What made the experience of listening to Guns, Germs and Steel the most enjoyable?

    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...


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Doug Ordunio’s performance did you like?

    I enjoyed listening to Doug.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chase Courington 01-17-15
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    "Great but verbose"

    Very interesting. Long winded he tends to harp too long on a topic before moving on. I think it could be told a little quicker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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