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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

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3.9 (808 )
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Story
3.9 (622 )
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Performance
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  •  
    That SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-05-12
    That SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-05-12 Member Since 2011

    That Ray Guy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sixteen Lost Hours"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Any insomniac desperate for sleep without pharmaceutical assistance. Or perhaps an irritable person with multiple personality issues, interested in arguing with themselves.


    What could Jared Diamond have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Choose a theory and stick to it. Do not bother us with the fact that others have come to and published other conclusions. The continual self doubt of


    Have you listened to any of Doug Ordunio’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. But he is an obviously well sounding, patient man with a natural talent for reading aloud. The two stars I gave this book are to be credited EXCLUSIVELY to Mr. Ordunio, NOT Mr. Diamond.


    What character would you cut from Guns, Germs and Steel?

    Please refer to the comment in the other categories of this review.


    Any additional comments?

    SPOILER ALERT -

    It took over sixteen very dry hours to find out that MAYBE when humans live in a four distinct seasonal area they will eventually get bored enough in winter to invent ways to have more free time in summer. Then, with that spare time and those newly invented things, they will invade other countries and take stuff they might not need so as to deprive others of it (by the way, THAT would have made a good book).

    OR the reasons might be one of the many other theories that are credited but then explained at great lengths. Any of these hypothesis may be the real reason guns were invented to better kill stuff, people developed strong immunities to most germs because of diverse life styles and finally, the discovery that super heating iron made it so strong as to be called steel, which made better guns for invading.

    I wish the author would have just chosen one theory and gone with it. We then could have discussed other ideas amongst ourselves. Instead, all the bases were covered in a blatant effort to make no mistakes. Tawdry, Jared.

    I must say the narrator did a wonderful job of hanging in there. So forcefully was his energy put into the project, that he alone is what kept me going.

    I do not ask for a credit or monitory refund. However, on my deathbed, if I’m not in too much discomfort, might my life be extended for this amount so that I can enjoy the silence that was taken from me by this peripatetic diatribe?

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 05-17-13
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Eh. . . Not so Much"

    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.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Baltimore, MD, United States 09-17-11
    "unknown" Baltimore, MD, United States 09-17-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I hope the information isn't that important..."

    because I find it IMPOSSIBLE to pay attention to this audiobook. I was careful not to get the abridged version, but I think now I made the wrong move. It's a combination of longwinded composition and an uninspired performance.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    taylor storey California/China 03-19-14
    taylor storey California/China 03-19-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Strong 3 Stars!"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 02-06-14
    Mark Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 02-06-14 Member Since 2008

    I enjoy, epic and modern fantasy, science fiction, business, historical mystery, and technology books. Fav. series: Game of Thrones, Vampire Earth, Dresden, Iron Druid, Falco mysteries, Chris Anderson titles, Peaceful Warrior, and the Way of Kings (and more, of course;)

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    "An excellent and entertaining listen!"

    A great book that looks at the development and progress of civilizations across the history of the world. Wonderful insights and amazing detail presented in an interesting manner. Very enjoyable!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 10-07-13
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 10-07-13 Member Since 2008

    I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An exhaustive history of the modern world"

    Mr. Diamond is a well versed scholar in many fields and has produced many long winded novels that tie such things and anthropology, science and history into a fairly easy to follow chronological order. His writing is perhaps a bit too academic at times, but he is a passionate scientist that would like to see more money spent on us understanding this mess of a world we have created fully. Doug Ordunio is the right narrator for this sobering account of modern history. For a faster paced and more interesting account pick up An Edible History of the World.That said now I understand the Europeans weren't necessarily smarter. They were just dam lucky. In so many ways they weren't as smart as their Asian and Native American counterparts. Just more ruthless and cunning.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paris pete fairfield, ct USA 03-11-13
    paris pete fairfield, ct USA 03-11-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating but a bit dense."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Jared Diamond? Why or why not?

    Not an enthusiastic 'yes.' Just - maybe.


    How could the performance have been better?

    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.


    Could you see Guns, Germs and Steel being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    A TV series, yes.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glen SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 08-27-12
    Glen SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 08-27-12
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    "Bueller Bueller Bueller....."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I was so excited to get this book, but it is just so dry. The concept was fantastic, but it really gets into the minutiae. This book would be great for history buffs. I would also suggest getting the abridged version


    What was most disappointing about Jared Diamond’s story?

    The length of time it takes to get to the meat of the story and the tone of the speakers voice


    How could the performance have been better?

    Get quicker to the punch


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

    Disappointment


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mats Strangnas, Sweden 06-15-12
    mats Strangnas, Sweden 06-15-12 Member Since 2011
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    "a little too deterministic"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the national geographic film with the same name. However, the deterministic view and almost anxious way of telling that there are really no differences between people and cultures other than geography and physical environment bored me in the end. Never got through more than 4 hours of listening before giving up

    However, I do not hate it so I give it three stars.

    Mats


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Never got to the ending :)


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew El Paso, TX, USA 05-04-12
    Matthew El Paso, TX, USA 05-04-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very drawn out"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Maybe.. if interested in Anthropology


    Would you be willing to try another book from Jared Diamond? Why or why not?

    No. Jared Diamond tends to pontificate on and not get to his point


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

    People who start off with more end up with more.


    Any additional comments?

    This book has some real gems of observations and historical stories, only the author drones on and on and belabors the answer to his self imposed questions.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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