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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

4.2 (3344 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dan 03-05-17
    Dan 03-05-17 Member Since 2017
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    "An excellent purchase"
    If you could sum up Guns, Germs and Steel in three words, what would they be?

    This book was recommended by Gwynne Dyer in an interview with Dan Carlin on a podcast from Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. It is an excellent explanation of why the European world was successful in dominating the modern era and why other cultures were not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Farmer Warren, AR 03-04-17
    Steven Farmer Warren, AR 03-04-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Best book on history ever"

    Learn why things are the way they are. Why races aren't superior to one another. And how history is almost a science.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anson L. Thaggard 02-27-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Worth "wade""

    First couple of chapters are slow as they just outline what is to come. The author then systematically goes through the process of the development of society from an evolutionary standpoint.

    The principles and patterns are repeated with each section of the book.

    I like that it made me think more deeply about many things I would ordinarily take for granted. For example, hunting/gathering as opposed to early food production was really a matter of expediency rather than an inevitable progression.

    I also like the discussion of plant domestication and the many considerations of what makes a particular plant useful and domesticable. The author goes deep into such minutia but it is worth the wade in the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Salt Lake City, UT, United States 02-14-17
    Rebecca Salt Lake City, UT, United States 02-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Interesting information, but too repetitive."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Not as an audiobook, but I would as a Kindle book or paper book. I liked the information in it, but I just felt the same points were iterated too many times, so I'd like to keep the information while having an easier format to skip ahead with. If the author would go through with an editorial team and cut out some of this repetition that would be even better, and I'd feel much better about the audio version.


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

    I can't pinpoint one particular moment. Being the kind of nonfiction it is, it's not exactly built up to a memorable denouement. I felt like Diamond laid out his case logically and brought the threads together well, though.


    What aspect of Doug Ordunio’s performance would you have changed?

    I don't know what I would have changed; I felt Ordunio's performance was adequate; neither annoying or perfectly suited. The narration seemed a little stilted, perhaps, and it was hard for me to get drawn in.


    Was Guns, Germs and Steel worth the listening time?

    Not really. I am normally not a fan of abridgment, but this is a rare case where I feel it would be beneficial. Many times, especially during the last 6-7 chapters I could have told you what the narrator was going to say before he said it. It was kind of the same information from the earlier chapters slightly reworded and applied in a slightly different context. I felt the author did such a good job on those concepts earlier, that much of the last part of the book was redundant. There were a few elements of the last section that were independently worthwhile, but I feel like with clever editorial choices those could have been incorporated in shorter form in different parts of the book. Honestly, I think the whole thing could have been about 30 percent shorter and still made its case admirably.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bavo 02-10-17
    Bavo 02-10-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Intriguing, encompassing and thorough."

    Great narration of an at first glance dry topic, that grows more interesting with every page. It takes a step back from normal history and tried to get a birds eye view of the patterns of population growth, technology and conquest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Giovanni Focaraccio 02-08-17
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    "A robust academic rebuttal to racism"

    A clear argument against any notion that one race is inherently superior to another. Exquisitely illustrates how early physical environmental factors had a snowball effect ultimately resulting in the state of nations we see today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rce2md 02-05-17
    rce2md 02-05-17 Member Since 2014
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    "details details. lots of facts. unbeliresour"

    amazing descriptions of all the continents. facts are amazing. it's amazing me easy description of Africa vs Europe

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EDWARD Coralville, IA, United States 02-03-17
    EDWARD Coralville, IA, United States 02-03-17 Member Since 2015
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    "a must for understanding history and modern times"

    such inspiring, interesting, connective material. chock full of information, I had to slow down the reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sasha 01-30-17
    Sasha 01-30-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Very, very dry"

    This is by far the driest book I have ever tried to listen to. I am very interested in the subject matter, but it reads like a text book. I would recommend listening to Sapiens instead - it's a fascinating read and is also about human history and development.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. G. Wiczer 01-29-17 Member Since 2012
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    "It's a classic"

    The book is a classic of macro level history,that gives a philosophy for human development. It's a really nice companion to Sapiens. The performance also really flows.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Jim
    London
    1/22/14
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    "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

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Samuel
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    4/10/13
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    "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!

    3 of 3 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
  • 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.

    5 of 6 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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    "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
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    Performance
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    "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
  • Claude Schmit
    12/14/16
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    "Excellent read"

    Jared Diamond makes compelling arguments for the role of environmental effect on the evolution of human societies in different parts of the world. This is a must read for anyone interested in what has shaped our modern societies the way we find them today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • GEORGIOS G.
    Athens, Attiki Greece
    12/8/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "interesting initially but later became repetitive"

    interesting initially but later became too much of the same type of arguments and examples with too much information between evidence and conclusions

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Danny
    9/21/16
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    "Fascinating subject"

    Fascinating subject covered in great detail. Slightly repetitive and long winded, very pleased to have finished this book as very interesting but it took commitment!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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