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498 pages, Paperback
First published May 9, 1997
If it has taken centuries or thousands of years to improve or modify most of our plants up to their present standard of usefulness to man, we can understand how it is that neither Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any other region inhabited by quite uncivilised man, has afforded us a single plant worth culture. It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that given to the plants in countries anciently civilised.Does Diamond mention this? Unfortunately, I don't have a copy to hand.
“Why you white men have so much cargo [i.e., steel tools and other products of civilization] and we New Guineans have so little?”Jared Diamond is a biologist, who had a passion for studying birds, particularly the birds of New Guinea. But as he came to know and appreciate the many native people he met in his work, the question asked by a New Guinean named Yani remained with him. Why was it that westerners had so much relative to New Guinean natives, who had been living on that land for forty thousand years. Many found an explanation in racial exceptionalism. Diamond decided to find out. Was one group of people smarter than another? Why was there such dimorphism in the amount of cargo produced and toted by different groups?
What unfolded that day at Cajamarca is well known, because it was recorded in writing by many of the Spanish participants [...] by six of Pizarro's companions, including his brothers Hernando and Pedro. (pp. 68-69)