Guns Germs & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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9780393317558: Guns Germs & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.

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Review:

Life isn't fair--here's why: Since 1500, Europeans have, for better and worse, called the tune that the world has danced to. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond explains the reasons why things worked out that way. It is an elemental question, and Diamond is certainly not the first to ask it. However, he performs a singular service by relying on scientific fact rather than specious theories of European genetic superiority. Diamond, a professor of physiology at UCLA, suggests that the geography of Eurasia was best suited to farming, the domestication of animals and the free flow of information. The more populous cultures that developed as a result had more complex forms of government and communication--and increased resistance to disease. Finally, fragmented Europe harnessed the power of competitive innovation in ways that China did not. (For example, the Europeans used the Chinese invention of gunpowder to create guns and subjugate the New World.) Diamond's book is complex and a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth--examining the "positive feedback loop" of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation, and on and on--makes sense. Written without bias, Guns, Germs, and Steel is good global history.

Review:

An ambitious, highly important book. -- James Shreeve

The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding.

An ambitious, highly important book.--James Shreeve

Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope . . . one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years. --Colin Renfrew

Guns, Germs and Steel lays a foundation for understanding human history, which makes it fascinating in its own right. Because it brilliantly describes how chance advantages can lead to early success in a highly competitive environment, it also offers useful lessons for the business world and for people interested in why technologies succeed. --Bill Gates

A fascinating and extremely important book. That its insights seem so fresh, its facts so novel and arresting, is evidence of how little Americans and, I suspect, most well-educated citizens of the Western world know of the most important forces of human history. --David Brown

Artful, informative, and delightful.... There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject, and that is what Jared Diamond has done. --William H. McNeil

A book of remarkable scope, a history of the world in less than 500 pages which succeeds admirably, where so many others have failed, in analyzing some of the basic workings of culture process.... One of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years. --Colin Renfrew

The scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding.

Fascinating and extremely important... [A] synopsis doesn't do credit to the immense subtlety of this book. --David Brown

This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour though 13,000 years of history on all the continents a short history of everything about everybody.... By at last providing a convincing explanation for the differing developments of human societies on different occasions, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history.... After reading the first two pages, you won't be able to put it down. --Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University

An ambitious, highly important book. --James Shreeve"

No scientist brings more experience from the laboratory and field, none thinks more deeply about social issues or addresses them with greater clarity, than Jared Diamond as illustrated by Guns, Germs, and Steel. In this remarkably readable book he shows how history and biology can enrich one another to produce a deeper understanding of the human condition. --Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University"

Serious, groundbreaking biological studies of human history only seem to come along once every generation or so. . . . Now [Guns, Germs, and Steel] must be added to their select number. . . . Diamond meshes technological mastery with historical sweep, anecdotal delight with broad conceptual vision, and command of sources with creative leaps. No finer work of its kind has been published this year, or for many past. --Martin Sieff"

Artful, informative, and delightful.... There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject, and that is what Jared Diamond has done.--William H. McNeil

A book of remarkable scope, a history of the world in less than 500 pages which succeeds admirably, where so many others have failed, in analyzing some of the basic workings of culture process.... One of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years.--Colin Renfrew

This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour though 13,000 years of history on all the continents a short history of everything about everybody.... By at last providing a convincing explanation for the differing developments of human societies on different occasions, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history.... After reading the first two pages, you won't be able to put it down.--Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University"

The scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding.

[Diamond] is broadly erudite, writes in a style that pleasantly expresses scientific concepts in vernacular American English, and deals almost exclusively in questions that should interest everyone concerned about how humanity has developed. . . . [He] has done us all a great favor by supplying a rock-solid alternative to the racist answer. . . . A wonderfully interesting book.--Alfred W. Crosby

An epochal work. Diamond has written a summary of human history that can be accounted, for the time being, as Darwinian in its authority.--Thomas M. Disch

Fascinating and extremely important... [A] synopsis doesn't do credit to the immense subtlety of this book.--David Brown

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New ed.. 234 x 154 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this artful, informative, and delightful (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California s Gold Medal. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780393317558

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New ed.. 234 x 154 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this artful, informative, and delightful (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California s Gold Medal. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780393317558

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