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
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.
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.
Wow, this is a great book. The understanding of deep time and the authors real experiences splashed in to add colour. There is so much amazing information which has made me the life of dinner party conversation as I spout bits of knowledge from this great book.
This book is a primer for understanding our world, breaking down racism, western superiority even understanding our natural environment. It covers the whole path of humanity and dispels common myths... just download it.
The performance is good, although the topic is great I didn't quite notice the performance, or maybe that is the mark of a great performance?
There are moments of aha! When you a realise that our world, is the way it is, not through design but through circumstance. It’s quite fast paced, and one of the few books that I didn’t tune out for a minute or two.
This is great it should be required reading in schools, universities, churches even the bus.
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.
A lot of people have recommended this book to me over the years and I finally got the chance to read it…
I came away from this book with a mind full of questions to ponder for the rest of my life!
Yes, its a very good book. Well writen and well explained.
Nothing I have yet read. Though I hope to find others.
Clear and well voiced.
History: A real world story
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