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Guns, Germs and Steel Audiobook

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

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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

4.1 (2361 )
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4.1 (1965 )
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Performance
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  •  
    BeowulfBookMan 06-25-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    Story
    "Wanted to like it...But it wasn't engaging"
    What disappointed you about Guns, Germs and Steel?

    I had high hopes for this book. The topic is very interesting but there were 2 big flaws I could find. First - The author went way out of the way to make sure this book was politically correct, and didn't offend anyone. As such, the explanations are overly drawn out and justified with stale characterizations. Second - They spend too much time explaining every small point and topic before bringing it together and explaining why this information is relevant. This has the effect of making the book boring most of the time, and interesting for brief moments. Unfortunately it wasn't interesting enough to stay engaging.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josh 06-21-16
    Josh 06-21-16
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    10
    3
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    Story
    "Wow"

    Now that, was amazing. Not sure why I waited this long to get this book, glad I fixed the problem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel D Offenberg 06-18-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting science but so-so writing."

    Jared Diamond's thesis is interesting and thought-provoking, but this treatment of it is overdone and somewhat tedious.

    The idea that human cultures are shaped by their environment and other non-human factors (such as animal and plant species) makes a lot of sense and Diamond does a good job of demonstrating the validity of the ideas. However, the book spends a lot of time driving home his points, and after a while, I just found it tedious to slog through the book.

    The narration is good without being fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph L. Campbell Jr. 06-13-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A sleeping pill"

    Had to read it twice maybe even a third time. Very informative and dry at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald W. 06-06-16
    Ronald W. 06-06-16
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    "Smart and essential"

    As a historian, Diamond presents cause and effect in a compelling and approachable way. So many conversations have emerge from this book; thoughts I never previously had. The scope of his research is broad. So much so, feel I am a more humble and patient person; I am just a speck. My only criticism is I would at times get lost in the minutiae of his need to support his argument.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed DC 06-03-16
    Ed DC 06-03-16 Member Since 2016

    Renaissance

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    "Brilliant"

    Simply brilliant. It was like methodically piecing the entire history of humanity together in order to answer one question.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john a coil 05-25-16
    john a coil 05-25-16
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    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    "my book soon to follow"
    Would you listen to Guns, Germs and Steel again? Why?

    yep, cuz i distracted easliy


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Guns, Germs and Steel?

    genetics based of cultural diffusion.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    mr plum in the library with the toothpick


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    when I realized that i was talking like reader.


    Any additional comments?

    send me free stuff

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 05-01-16
    Peter 05-01-16 Member Since 2015
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    12
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    "Off sound."

    The mixing seemed a but off. You could easily tell when there were different recording sessions. otherwise great book and very informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Palmer British Columbia, Canada 04-23-16
    Palmer British Columbia, Canada 04-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Seems odd but I was sad when it ended"

    I loved every second of this book. It is very detail oriented and Diamond explains thousands of years in a very short amount of time. There's no hyperbole, embellishment and only evidence based conclusions. The performance is perfectly fine. I feel others having trouble with the work (it's boring, not performed well, etc) are due to the book was written to be read, not listened to. Also, if you've rabidly lived your life believing as a white European (or descendant) you are superior to everyone else on the planet, this book will succinctly challenge that assumption. Jared Diamond is brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    afireinside1988 04-22-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Very interesting, in depth, and insightful look into social science."

    This was a great story giving detailed information about human society and evolution throughout the world. Jared Diamond goes into great depth about geographical locations and food production giving rise to complex and powerful societies. His thesis revolves around why white Europeans came to conquer and control most of the modern world and how it happened. While I do not agree with everything he says, and I feel that some of his research is a bit out of date at this point, he does spend a lot of time and effort rigorously vetting his theories. If you like this empirical approach of analyzing human history and social sciences from antiquity to the modern era I would highly recommend purchasing Before the Dawn by Nicolas Wade. Wade references a lot of Diamond's work in his book while offering new and improved genetic data to help paint a clearer picture of human history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Jim
    London
    1/22/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "The definitive Audible purchase"

    I was defeteated by the text version of this listen despite finding the topic interesting and generally being happy to stick with challenging reads. I don't know whether it was Diamond's prose style or the relatively slow start but for whatever reason I just couldn't get past the first 50 pages. The audible version though was an entirely different proposition. It's well narrated; I stuck with early sections that did a good job of scene setting but gave me problems in print and by the end I was so fascinated by the combination of detailed research and sweeping vision that I listened to it again. Can't recommend this too highly for fans of non-fiction

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • EuroGamer
    HERTFORD, United Kingdom
    12/22/12
    Overall
    "An excellent work slightly spoilt"

    As a scientist myself I have always like Jarad Diamond as he opens up areas I have an non-professional interests. In this work Diamond deals this the differences between the various levels of development between various groups of peoples. Why is European/Asian culture so dominate? Diamond lays out his evidence and arguments well and does not fall into to the trap of push one reason for our current situation over another. However, the audio book is let down with poor narration with almost no inflection in his voice, which made it unpleasant and dry to listen to.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Samuel
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    4/10/13
    Overall
    "Controversial and Judgemental"

    I really enjoyed this audiobook, my wife, who studied anthropology did not! As with so many debates, the lack of accessible specialist literature on a subject of widespread interest leads to other specialisms filling the void, from an anthropologists view this happened here.



    The mashing of the huge historical period and the geographical themes is understandable here, Diamond is a Geographer, and sees life in those terms, much as Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail, examine life as economists. Obviously, real life is more complicated, but by simplifying the discussions and applying a consistent paradigm,I felt I understood more about development than before.



    Yes, I can see why Survival International don't like some of Diamond's narrative, there is certainly less sympathy for native peoples, but so what? If you download this you'll possibly move on to others of this type.



    If anthropologists would suggest something to broaden my views I would be happy to access it, otherwise my reading list includes: Ian Morris, Niall Ferguson, Charles C. Mann, and David Landes!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Jim Vaughan
    Malvern, UK
    2/11/13
    Overall
    "A Magnum Opus - in every sense."

    This is a "magnum opus" in all senses of the phrase, and deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The question at the centre of the book is one asked by a New Guinea tribesman "How did your culture and peoples come to dominate us?", and the book opens with the defeat of several thousand Mayan warriors and their God-King, by a few hundred Spanish Conquistadors, armed with guns. Diamond rightly rejects the 19th Century explanation that white Europeans are innately superior, citing examples of the often greater inventiveness, adaptability and intelligence of "aboriginal" peoples. Dismissed too are notions of superior culture (e.g. Niall Fergason's 6 "killer apps" in his book "Civilisation"). Diamond instead looks to geography, and natural history for explanations. We conquered other continents, because we carried more lethal diseases (germs), and had better technology (guns & steel). This in turn was because the continent of Eurasia has many more animals and plants that could be domesticated, carried more diseases (to which we developed immunity) and that both of these, along with cultural advances, spread more easily East-West along similar temperate zones, leading to our earlier abandonment of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, in favour of farming, specialisation and technological advancement. Though the book paints a broad brush history, it delves very specifically into details of the development and clashes among numerous world cultures, and the evidence left to us today in language, technology, lifestyle, diseases and diet. Sometimes, the level of detail he goes into becomes almost overwhelming. The narration is very clear and concise, but the intonation is sometimes flat, and I found myself drifting off at times. It would have been great if the author had narrated it himself. In summary, this is a major and important work, but a long and sometimes difficult book. It is hard, but well worth the effort, if you, like me, seek to understand how and why we got here.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom
    12/5/15
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    "Really interesting take on World history"

    Jared Diamond approaches World History in a refreshing and entirely original way in this work. Rather than looking simply at what happened or even why it happened, he goes right back to first principles to examine why the circumstances arose that led to peoples of one part of the World essentially dominating the others. I think the macro view is a little simplistic but it is undeniably compelling and a strong counter-argument to more reductionist arguments of racial superiority or cultural differences.

    I listen to a lot of history books on Audible and few, if any, have brought to light as many new realisations about the World. Not so much telling me things I didn't already know but highlighting the importance of facts that I was already aware of.

    It has to be said that it is not a perfect work and Jared Diamond's ego does get in the way somewhat. He simply can't resist interposing his personal experience and special insights into the narrative rather than simply let the story stand on it's own. A certain number of these personal anecdotes would be fine but it feels at times like he is desperate for the reader/listener to acknowledge just how special and clever his insights are and how uniquely positioned he is to draw them.

    Overall a really interesting and engaging listen but I can see how the writer's style might really grate with some.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • T. Evans
    Wales
    8/8/15
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating insights into long-term history"
    What did you like most about Guns, Germs and Steel?

    The ambition of this book is immense, crisscrossing the globe, and human societies throughout history and prehistory. It's one of those rare mind expanding books that changes the way you look at the world.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • G
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    2/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting in parts, too repetitive, some bias"
    What disappointed you about Guns, Germs and Steel?

    I felt like the author started off by a) telling me what he thought I believed (that 'westeners' were more intelligent than non westerners) and b) then telling me how I was wrong. I didn't actually believe the thing that I felt the author was accusing me of so that was a bad start. The book was extremely repetitive. It was very much, tell them what you are going to tell them x10, tell them x10, tell them what you just told them x 10. There was no need for all the repetition. I got it the 1st, 2nd and 3rd time. Some of the analyisis seemed quite flawed when compared with other books like Chip Walters' Last Ape Standing, and Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. Overall some interesting snippets of information within spoiled by a biased writer who writes as if his readrer has the memory retention of a goldfish. Disappointing!


    Has Guns, Germs and Steel put you off other books in this genre?

    No


    How could the performance have been better?

    Performance was OK


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Guns, Germs and Steel?

    Much of the repetition


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Niall Q.
    7/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I can hear him turn the page!"

    In the final two chapters you can hear him turn the page!

    If like lists and same point repeated several times, this is the book for you.

    Pros: Interesting Points throughout and alot of language history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cosmin
    7/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reader was horrible"

    The book was good and very intresting but the reader made it almost impossible to follow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • robert brookes
    4/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Less grass, more guns germs and steel please."

    Very interesting and thought provoking apart from the seemingly very long chapters on different crops.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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