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
Author has an axe to grind.... a steel one. Too much liberal speak "inequality of civilizations, etc....". No matter how much you talk about it, a civilization living in grass huts without a written language etc. is not "equal" to a developed nation with running water, written history, etc. And it is not because the developed nation plunderred and unjustly subjugated the civilization in grass huts.
Want my money back.
This book really gives you a good sense of the forces behind the destiny of different cultures on earth: why some have developed into powerful colonialist nations, and others never even developed agriculture. Jared Diamond is very thorough and convincing, although by three-quarters through you pretty much get the point and it kinda feels like he's bashing you over the heahead with his argument, but it's still kinda fun.
I felt like at times the reader didn't fully understand what he was reading. Occasionally the cadence of a sentence will sit in a weird spot and you kinda have to repeat it to yourself to fully understand what the author meant. This makes the engaging and otherwise fully accessible text a little hard to digest.
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.
I purchased this audio book based on an Audible recommendation. I subsequently purchased all other works he has authored on Amazon.
The narration is neutral. That is how it should be.
NAT GEO already did. The tag line from that should be: READ THE BOOK!
He simplifies complex scientific thinking without diluting the important facts.
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.)
Much as his TV shows & interviews, this is a logical trek thru what separated various parts of human evolution…. while not politically correct to some, it is a useful piece to place historical changes in context…. well done.
I'm going with a strong 3 stars. This book was well researched. The kind of book that your professors want you to write. Very logical, with each point being addressed, and an 'area for further study' at the end of the book. He is a professor at UCLA...so it kinda feels like a dissertation...definitely more readable than that, but tedious for the average reader like myself.
Jared Diamond has lived a really interesting, global life. While in New Guinea a young politician asked him "why do you have cargo and we don't?" Cargo meaning stuff, boats, technology, etc. Diamond boils this down to the most essential advantages the Europeans had that others did not: Guns, Germs and Steel.
Then he asks, why did the Europeans get guns, germs and steel and not people from other places?
Then you have lots and lots and lots of information that I mostly got lost in...and you realize he's saying: Geography. The geography of places led to them having 'advantages' in moving towards settled societies with technology and literacy and food crops. ...My professors at Jerusalem University College would love that.
This book is especially valuable because the subconsciously assumed answer to the question of why one race has more cargo is generally that certain races are more superior in some way, but he's saying no and giving a good, well thought out reason for this. This book will make subsequent history books better. For the average reader, you could probably get away with reading the intro and the conclusion...that's mostly what I will remember.
It is a huuuuge undertaking to answer the question of how everything happened and became the way it did and he does it in about as concise a manner as I can imagine anybody doing...but still, for my desires, it was still too scientific feeling and not enough stories. I would have liked it if it followed a few biographies or something. Too tedious for me. Maybe I need to read a bit more around the topic and then come back to it.
I did like when he dabbled in Linguistic history, I think I have a little connection to that having studied a few languages and asking a few questions in that realm. I listened to this on audiobook and my ears perked up when he started making those connections.
Too much conjecture and speculation laid out as fact. Of course this is the nature of evolutionary science so that much is to be expected, but this goes beyond the norm.
It may be too that I expected too much from this book. This is of course a very well known book of great critical acclaim, but it just doesn't measure up to the reputation.
I'm still scratching my head as to how this book came to be so highly regarded. I made it through the first half but I was just getting so little out of this I had to try and salvage my time and just push stop.
Hard to say. I have read the book and remember that I keept going back and forth in the book to check facts and to compare when the author referenced to earlier wrtitings in the book. That is a tad harder/cumbersum to do with the audiobook. Having read the book for three years ago I didnät feel the need to go back and forth though.
There are several scenes when Jarrod puts our world in perspective using different naturetribes ho been working with as examples.
This book didn't touch my heart, it did touch my brain though.
Read it to get a firmer ground to stand in both the evolution and history of mankind.
Yes. I picked up some valuable general concepts. But the level of detail became overwhelming. And the presentation was mediocre. Eventually the book became a bit tedious.
Not an enthusiastic 'yes.' Just - maybe.
The reader went through the rather dense material in this book at an unrelenting, and a bit-too-fast, pace. I would describe his delivery style as a monotone which, combined with the denseness of the material, made the audio hard to listen to for extended periods.
A TV series, yes.
I enjoyed listening to this story not based on Theology and instead on factual findings.
I am little boring so this is unfair but when the wife cracked the husband over the head for his admittance to something he had done.....yes I laughed.
This book was used for help in my Religion and Culture class.
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