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Guns, Germs, and Steel

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Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1998 it won a Pulitzer Prize and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. A documentary based on the book and produced by the National Geographic Society was broadcast on PBS in July 2005.

140 pages, Paperback

First published March 8, 2010

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Frederic P. Miller

2,491 books148 followers
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5 stars
200 (37%)
4 stars
223 (41%)
3 stars
88 (16%)
2 stars
21 (3%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews
Profile Image for Marshall.
171 reviews19 followers
May 16, 2015
I didn’t finish the book :( it’s an interesting book that tries to address fundamental questions of global power and inequality. Yet for my own reading preference, it’s too academic to fully enjoy. Alternatively, this can be a fascinating documentary series, and I found one!

Profile Image for Connor George.
6 reviews
December 28, 2014
I'm late to the party, but what on earth was this?

I read this as my professor mentioned it in a lecture. But...

Where do I start...?
Generally his thesis is entirely weak. He sets out to answer the question of why some societies were more advanced than others, despite some continents, starting out earlier than others. Of course a geographer would conclude that geography influences human societies the most. Yeah bro its called ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISM. Not a new idea.
He looks to fill his work with needless, tiresome and incoherent sermons on agriculture, which to his credit, were vaguely interesting, particularly the parts on crop staples and plant domestication. But as I mentioned, they were simply boring, and unnecessary as factors strengthening his thesis.

But it was his final word on trying to turn history into a science. turning a humanities subject into an objective empirical discipline. This was the final point which sealed it for me. it proved the fact that he has tried to balance too many fields, without a deeper knowledge of the intricacies of the disciplines he was using. I understand it is a short book and he couldn't possibly have managed to include everything on the subject in one book. But he asks a big question, which would naturally necessitate a big answer. I'm no doctorate, but even I can see he has not explored all of the possible research in answering his question.

This scathing review has, I'm sure, been mirrored by previous readers, and I am in no doubt that I am not alone in my opinion. Perhaps the Geographer, should just stay as well... A geographer.

Final verdict by this undergraduate:
Weak. Weak. Weak.
Profile Image for Ravi Gangadat.
6 reviews
March 6, 2015
This is an excellent book. The book aimed to answer the following questions - "Why did human development proceed at such different rates on different continents?", "Why were Europeans, rather than Africans or native Americans, the ones to end up on top?"

I learned that history followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences.
Profile Image for Bob Uva.
66 reviews
April 27, 2014
I finally got to reading this book and was not disappointed! It introduced me to a way of viewing history, through geographical and other boundaries, that is not only very appealing but seems to explain a lot of the differences in the fate of people throughout the world.
Profile Image for Jessica.
854 reviews
October 16, 2018
This is an epic read. It strives to answer the question of why some people conquered (like the Europeans) and others were conquered (like the Native Americans). The short answer is geography, the long answer is this book. It truly was fascinating. I feel smarter for my time with this book.
Profile Image for David.
404 reviews8 followers
July 23, 2019
First non-fiction I have read in quite a while. Having majored in sociology and minored in anthropology, this book is a joy to read. It also re-introduced me to serious readingthat I have neglected on the years.
Profile Image for Ben Wainblat.
288 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2019
Good book to make you seem smart at cocktail parties, but I don't feel too personally enriched by reading this.
Profile Image for Judy.
224 reviews2 followers
April 29, 2015
This is another one of those books that's probably a better "read" than "listen." Though it's mostly things you should have learned in Social Studies 101 - had you been paying attention.

After 5 hours of "lecture," Diamond says the development of civilizations - why some cultures developed quicker and became more sophisticated than others has to do with the environment. Societies that domesticated plants and animals made more significant cultural, civic, and technological advances sooner than peoples who lived in less hospitable environments.
468 reviews29 followers
November 8, 2014
Interesting book, very unique. It explains why some societies and countries are move advanced than other. On the bigger level it makes a lot of sense. I found it particulary interesting that a certain amount of competition boosts growth and eventually is a good thing.

Guns, Germs and Steel
- Competition is important to progress and pushing yourself
- Countries are doing good/bad today due to their ancestor's environments and availalbe resources
5 reviews
May 29, 2015
Traces the advancement of human civilization quite well. Detailed notes and theory. Links the binding factors from hunter-gatherer stage to food production.
1) Too much focus on Australian Aborigines and New Guinea. These are significant but there have been much larger civilizations that have influenced the advent of human history
2) Indus valley and Mesopotamia forgotten completely
3) Wars and expansion not covered at all which played a major role in spread of human civilization
6 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2014
This explains everything. Every time there is a discussion regarding history or culture, I think back to this book and wish everyone were required to read it. Basically, I think it should be mandatory reading before entering nay discussion on the internet.
Profile Image for Rich Dammkoehler.
45 reviews3 followers
February 12, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. I have to admit that there were times when it dragged on, but it gave me a lot better understanding of how the modern world was shaped and the influences of geography, disease, technology, etc. I highly recommend reading this book.
Profile Image for Jeff Ferry.
Author 3 books9 followers
April 9, 2015
The book contains lots of interesting information, but it's presented in a very unexciting way. Although the book is short at 140 pages it still feels like it drags. Only recommended for people with a deep love of history and civilization.
November 1, 2016
This should be part of every high school history class. The book was well written, interesting, and accessible.
33 reviews1 follower
July 1, 2014
Fascinating book on how little things can dramatically affect the course of history.
22 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2014
Very interesting concepts, and a thought provoking combination of science and humanities.
4 reviews
January 16, 2015
Very interesting and appealing theory about the development of different civilizations. Easy to read for a historic book.
76 reviews6 followers
April 4, 2015
Well written and thought out explanations for anthropological mysteries. Not as good as Collapse.
Profile Image for Jim Reinknecht.
96 reviews
July 27, 2015
a fabulous piece of journalism, a wonderful exploration into why white Europeans and their descendants have so much and the native peoples they displaced have so little.
Displaying 1 - 28 of 28 reviews

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