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
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.)
The subject of this book is very interesting and the conclusion the author reaches is quite novel, however the book is way too long. The author keeps repeating the same ideas over and over without any practical need. I would say it's enough to read (listen) the last chapter to get 85% of the information.
I have to totally agree with Steven from Aukland in saying that this book has world changing content, but is so dry and repetitive that it often sent me into the kind of trance I would go into at school.
It may have won a Pulitzer Prize, but that is not to say that it engages the listener. Instead it hammers home the same theme of repetitive facts over and over, seemingly without acknowledging the reader has absorbed the ideas earlier in the book, much like school.
The compulsion for being comprehensive makes this book read like a PHD paper, where all boxes are ticked and every theme rounded and cross checked, then referenced.
It's hard going and I keep it in my car for very long trips when I have absolutely nothing else to listen to.
Audiobooks are usually consumed while doing other things --- driving, jogging, cooking. For the most part these are mindless tasks so it works, but occasionally the brain is required or ambient sound intrudes, and you miss something. For me this disqualifies as audiobooks most fiction and all dense non-fiction. A good audiobook should be full of interesting but simple ideas, and not have too many names or numbers to keep straight. Some repetitiveness than would grate in print is welcome. In these respects this book is ideal. It takes the theory of geographical determinism and the factors of east-west axis, domesticable animals and plants and provides a non-racist, non-cultural reason for why Europe conquered the world. Anyone with any amount of curiosity about how the balance of world power ended up the way it did would find this idea interesting. Highly recommended.
No. I would recommend they read the book. Listening to the audiobook requires undivided attention.
To be fair, narrating a book of this kind is quite difficult. There is a plethora of information to be covered and it's quite hard to sit there and listen to all the complicated details about the types of animals and their domestication all around the world, for instance.
Any joy that might have been found in the knowledge of this audiobook was completely removed by the performance. My husband and I enjoy listening to nonfiction while we take long car rides, and we had a five hour trip to New York State coming up, and nabbed this title. We barely made it an hour before he asked me to pick something else to play, since the dull monotonous performance was actually making him tired at the wheel.
It's unfortunate. The information is interesting, and though the author is perhaps a bit dry and academic in his delivery, it could have been presented much better by someone with a more engaging range of voice. It took a very long time to struggle our way through this one, in tiny bites, and I often found myself drifting away from it, completely disengaged from the uninspiring performance.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Picture bi-pedal, somewhat hairy, naked human antecedents stalking a mastodon, munching wild tubers or berries in a hostile environment and Diamond’s idea of the beginning of society is fulfilled.
Jared Diamond argues that all human beings, in their beginning, were “hunter, gatherers”. The question is why did some societies continue as hunter, gathering cultures (bordering on extinction) while other societies grew to dominate the world? Diamond’s research leads to a belief that the fate of human society grows from agriculture and the invention and evolution of “Guns, Germs and Steel”. Diamond’s research provides a historically and scientifically arguable record of societal evolution.
“Guns, Germs, and Steel” is not a page turning adventure; in fact, it is poorly organized and ponderous, but it has the power to change minds about why the West has dominated the world for so long. Who knows about the future but Diamond seems to know something about the past.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Interesting look at the dynamics of why the conquered fell to the conquering throughout history. Why didn't the Incas superior numbers wipe the invading Spaniards off the map for instance. A very engaging read.
Innovation, infection, history
I can't say there was a character per se that was interesting, but the entire concept that history is an interaction with technology and biology was enlightening.
It seems natural rather than didactic.
Just as there was no outstanding "character" there was no outstanding portion. It all worked well together to make a point.
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