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A Review of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared M. Diamond

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Guns, Germs, And Steel “The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared M. Diamond, is a non-fictional historical book published in 1997 with roughly 480 pages. In Guns, Germs, and steel Diamond takes us through the journey in which the way society was built, he stresses that the most important factors in building an society are the material factors and how they come into play. He emphasizes that the surroundings and environmental differences are the main things that caused some countries to develop quicker than others and in the book he takes us through the history and shows us how some countries were made to be more successful simply from their access to more developed natural resources.

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The theme that I took from this book would have to be Race vs. Environment, I say this because when discussing why some continents are more advanced than others it could be seen as people coming from a more developed continent traveling to another continent and finding others there, and maybe the more racially superior group with already developed new inventions ultimately ended up conquering another group just by being ahead and causing it to be a more survival of the fittest kind of game. Ultimately turning it into a race run and down the line causing problems between races whereas it may have really just been that some continents were more developed and naturally had a head start to better inventions. From that I believe that the main goal in Jared Diamond writing this book is for us to see that race and or intelligence may not necessarily be the reason that some places are more ahead than others more that the geographical differences, food production, the domestication of animals, immunity and germs as well as the development of guns and steel are the reasons that people in other countries are ahead and more materially successful.

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.” (Diamond 25)

Diamond starts off chapter one of the book discussing how societies became more stable once they moved from the hunting and gathering mindset into growing crops and raising domesticated animals. As the chapter continues, he shows the development of the different labor groups and ruling parties and from labor groups being formed eventually from that the populations began to thrive, and empires began to be built. To help us better understand for the people like me who learn from visual presentations Diamond puts some maps in the book and shows the spread of human population around the world including time spans on the maps, he also provides a visual of the factors underlying the broadest pattern of history in order which is a positive for me about the book.

As we dive further into the book Diamond starts to explore the continent of Eurasia and discusses how this content ultimately may have had the upper hand compared to other continents because of their access to natural resources such as animals that had already been domesticated in that area as well as their access to the natural growing plants and crops which were able to provide them with their essential needs. From that they were able to build quickly because they had the ability to make clothing from the flax and cotton plants. They were able to make things to keep warm with using the animals, animals also provided food, wool, and leather.

“Hence the availability of domestic plants and animals ultimately explains why empires, literacy, and steel weapons developed earlier in Eurasia ad later, or not at all, on other continents.” (Diamond 92)

As when compared to other continents like the Americas plants grown in more warmer areas wouldn’t grow in a more tropical kind of environment which would ultimately make it more difficult for the people from other continents to be able to trade crops and animals because these kind of things were different on different continents but eventually people began to share ideas to help each other become more developed and trade became more popular amongst the people.

Furthermore, he also explains how even though there was access to the animals and plants these same animals and plants that provided them with food also carried diseases that could very quickly kill them off, which eventually in some places it did. Germs and diseases within the animals quickly would spread through the humans as they consumed these animals and as populations would spread and trade so would the diseases and it would begin to start plagues and due to that some of the populations that once were, were no longer. But as you can tell from the title germs was one of the main causes of some populations dying off but also the wars with the guns and steel played a part in that when certain continents would conquer others.

In my opinion throughout the book Diamond does do a good job of arguing his reasons in which he believes his argument in which that some continents developed quicker due to their natural resources. I actually do believe his theory that these are the reasons in which some continents are more developed because of the fact every continent didn’t start of in the same place, some continents are located closer to the equator than others so its believable that development was slower in some places than others.

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Overall Guns, Germs, And Steel by Jared M. Diamond was not a difficult book to read but I do feel like there could’ve been a little more help within the book when it came to the more complicated terms and they could’ve added some definitions for some of the terms used within the book and maybe a few more visuals to help us get a more visual understanding of everything that would help. I would probably recommend this book more to the experts in the area only because for students and lay people we have to analyze some of the things said and terms used within this book and the experts would already have some kind of grasp on what he is discussing already. 

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