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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Guns Germs And Steel Book Review


Guns, Germs and Steel is a Pulitzer Award winning book that remains to be one of the most important works in the past 20 years. The book was written by Jared Diamond an acclaimed author and anthropologist who also published other outstanding books such as Collapse and Upheaval. In this review, we will look back and analyze the arguments presented in his book.

Guns Germs And Steel Book Review
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We have heard of how civilization began in Mesopotamia since our middle school days. Who will forget the Fertile Crescent or Mesopotamia and how many of us memorized all about Sumerians, Akkadians, Chaldeans, and Persians? Many people would ask; Why is there only one Fertile Crescent? The difference in the development between the Old and New World is very evident when cultures began clashing in the wake of the Age of Exploration.


Jared Diamond has been writing popular social science books since the early 1990s, his first widely known published book is titled The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. He garnered the most success when Guns Germs and Steel was published in 1998. The book won a Pulitzer Price later that year. Guns, Germs and Steel was also adapted into an eponymous documentary directed by National Geographic Society.

guns germs steel book
Image: Luabi
The nearly 500-page masterpiece started off with a strange question: Why is the world history is like an onion? Among all things why did he compare world history to an onion? Is it because an onion have many layers like the history of mankind? The opening chapters consist of facts about the Bronze Age and why most of human history has no records specially in the region of Oceania and Australia.


If there is a genetic lottery, there is also a geographic lottery; Some lands have favorable weather conditions, terrain, flora,and fauna while some do not have them. Some isolated regions of the world such as Oceania lack a Fertile land where huge cities rise and flourish. It is also observed that the t huge cities have rivers or lakes near these settlements.

The book is also very eloquent in describing and comparing Western and Eastern civilizations. During the Dark Ages, Eastern civilizations seem to thrive better than their Western counterparts due to the struggles of European monarchies and theocracies in containing the Black Death and the economic impact of several wars breaking out between kingdoms. But during the Renaissance and Enlightenment, Western civilization caught up with the East once again using liberal ideas in place of religion and science usurping superstition.

The last chapters deal with the rate of improvement in agriculture, industry, and medicine that span for centuries. The rise of agriculture is also seen as a factor in why civilizations came into being. A surplus in grain and other aged necessities gave rise to barter and primitive monetary policies. The absence or limited agriculture is a reason why some civilizations had limited development for centuries.


The book is a must-read for everyone interested in world history and science. Like the classic Ascent of Man, Guns, Germs, and Steel opens up our eyes in the past and even the future of mankind. The book is rated 9/10. You can watch Jared Diamond having a TedTalk on why societies collapse below.


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