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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    2,171
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    1,371
  • 3 Stars
    594
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    72

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Story

speculative but powerful arguments

If you want to win the "human race" start food production early, share technology, and move to an area with relatively a long equilatitudinal axis. Also, the develop a writing system as soon as possible.

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Best book on regional developmental differences

Brilliant insight.

Excludes India from the analysis, a material exclusion...

Narrator is a bit boring.

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Information dense, but hard to listen to

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

Yes. Diamond is a brilliant analytical thinker. I would be interested in almost anything he had to say.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Doug Ordunio?

Maybe. I found the reading very monotone, but the text itself was also tedious, so it may be unfair to say he is the reason.

Any additional comments?

Though there is no real Aha moment in this book, the title tells much of the story and I already had a passive understanding of the material. But I enjoyed the detailed analysis of why white Europeans came to be so dominant in the world, when there is no inherent advantage. And I feel like the knowledge was worth the time.

This book confirmed that, indeed, a homo sapien is a homo sapien, regardless of race, creed, etc., but by the luck of the draw, the homo sapiens that staked in what is now Europe gained advantages that led to a quicker path towards abundance of food and technology, and resistance to diseases. It could also be called Food, Germs and Technology.

The text is very dry for an audio book and the reader's voice didn't help with that. I found it a slog to listen for long stretches so it took me forever to finish.

I gave the story 3 stars, not because it lacked the detail, but because there was little storytelling. It could have used more examples and fewer lists and charts. Even a story about his own discoveries and where they took him would have made for a more interesting "read."

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Title was the best part

Grabbing title. Read that and was ready for a super cool book. Unfortunately, this reads like a text book in anthropology. If that’s what you are looking for you will love it. Listening to it I could barely stay awake or pay attention due to the emotionless performance and monotone text.

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Similar to Sapiens

having red sapiens first this book was just a duplicate story in a lot of ways. Maybe it would have been better had it in the first time I read it

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Great material and research. kind of a core dump.

Great material and research. Kind of a core dump of very good information. There was an excess of facts to keep up with that made it less entertaining. On the other hand his research into the how and why the growth of human population progressed and why there are so many econimic disparities between the races is exemplary. This is a must read for history buffs. if you are looking for a entertaining story look elsewhere.

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Loved it

Interesting and enlightening content, with excellent narration. I usually listen to these kinds of books when I'm walking to work, and I looked forward to this every day. A must-have if you like history!

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Heavy to say the least.

I really enjoyed this book. If history is your thing, I think you'll like this book.

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extremely interesting

The content is fascinating and such a robust subject. But, so dry and read in a monotone that doesn't enable listening while driving.

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Critical for any Amateur World Historian

Jared Diamond effectively lays out the argument that the actual reason that the peoples of different continents and different societies within those continents progressed in technological advancements at different rates had nothing to do with their “racial character,” an argument promulgated throughout earlier historiography of the period that set out to clarify why largely white societies were “better” racially than others, especially African blacks and Native populations of Australia, America, and Polynesia. Contrary to the popular early historical argument regarding this question, Diamond analyses geographical, agricultural, and biodiversity differences among these early societies to explain why some were able to become more complex (large-scale food production and condensing of populations into cities) than others that remained hunter-gatherers for considerably longer. Truly Diamond makes clear that it wasn’t racial differences that allowed Europeans and not the Native Americans to become colonizers, but rather an unequal geographical playing field, in that, while some areas offered considerably more climate zones that were ideal for farming and also had several to many domesticable animals, other areas had little to no ideal climate for farming to be independently produced and also had no utilitarian domesticated animals to commence with wide scale farming even if that were the case.

Truly a great read and entirely deserving of its praise.

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