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Encyclopedia > Guns, Germs, and Steel
Guns, Germs, and Steel

Paperback cover
Author Jared Diamond
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) Social evolution, history of civilization, ethnology, human effects on the environment, cultural diffusion
Publisher W. W. Norton
Publication date March, 1997 (1st edition, hardcover)
Media type Hardcover, Paperback, Audio CD, Audio Cassette, Audio Download
Pages 480 pages (1st edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 0-393-03891-2 (1st edition, hardcover)

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA. In 1998 it won a Pulitzer Prize and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. A documentary based on the book was broadcast on PBS in July 2005, produced by the National Geographic Society. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies cover This image is a book cover. ... Jared Mason Diamond (b. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Social evolution is a subdiscipline of evolutionary biology that is concerned with social behaviours, i. ... Ethnology (from the Greek ethnos, meaning people) is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyses the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the racial or national divisions of humanity. ... In anthropology, cultural diffusion refers to the spread of ideas, inventions, or patterns of behavior to different societies (Wintrop 1991:82) Since cultures have never been completely isolated from each other, diffusion has happened throughout history, and continues on today. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... W. W. Norton & Company is an American book publishing company that has remained independent since its founding. ... ISBN redirects here. ... Jared Mason Diamond (b. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The University of California, Los Angeles (generally known as UCLA) is a public research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. ... The Pulitzer Prize is an American award regarded as the highest national honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical composition. ... The Aventis Prizes for Science Books is an annual award for the previous years best general science writing and best science writing for children, sponsored by the Aventis Foundation. ... Documentary film is a broad category of visual expression that is based on the attempt, in one fashion or another, to document reality. ... PBS redirects here. ... This article is about the organization. ...




  • Prologue: Yali's Question

Part One: From Eden to Cajamarca

  • Chapter 1: Up to the Starting Line
  • Chapter 2: A Natural Experiment of History
  • Chapter 3: Collision at Cajamarca

This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Part Two: The Rise and Spread of Food Production

  • Chapter 4: Farmer Power
  • Chapter 5: History's Haves and Have-Nots
  • Chapter 6: To Farm or Not to Farm
  • Chapter 7: How to Make an Almond
  • Chapter 8: Apples or Indians
  • Chapter 9: Zebras, Unhappy Marriages, and the Anna Karenina Principle
  • Chapter 10: Spacious Skies and Tilted Axes

Part Three: From Food to Guns, Germs, and Steel

  • Chapter 11: Lethal Gift of Livestock
  • Chapter 12: Blueprints and Borrowed Letters
  • Chapter 13: Necessity's Mother
  • Chapter 14: From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy

Part Four: Around the World in Five Chapters

  • Chapter 15: Yali's People
  • Chapter 16: How China Became Chinese
  • Chapter 17: Speedboat to Polynesia
  • Chapter 18: Hemispheres Colliding
  • Chapter 19: How Africa Became Black


The prologue to the book opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yali, a New Guinean politician. The conversation turned to the obvious differences in power and technology between Yali's people and the Europeans who dominated the land for 200 years, differences that neither of them considered due to any genetic superiority of Europeans. Yali asked, using the local term "cargo" for inventions and manufactured goods, "Why you white men have so much cargo and we New Guineans have so little?" The Independent State of Papua New Guinea, often referred to by just the initials, PNG, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the other half is the Papua province of Indonesia). ...

Diamond found that he had no good answer. He says that the same sort of question seems to apply elsewhere: "People of Eurasian origin... dominate the world in wealth and power." Other peoples, having thrown off colonial domination, lag in wealth and power. Still others, he says, "have been decimated, subjugated, and in some cases even exterminated by European colonialists." (p. 15) He says that, unable to find a satisfactory explanation from the best-known accounts of history, he decided to make his own investigation to seek the root causes of Eurasian dominance.

Before stating his main argument, Diamond considers three possible criticisms of his investigation. These are covered in detail below.

The theory outlined

(As Michael Wood points out, agriculture made cities possible, and cities made war possible.)[citation needed] Michael Wood reading from an edition of the Domesday Book in a BBC Four documentary about Gilbert White This article is about the historian Michael Wood. ...

Eurasia's large landmass and long east-west distance increased these advantages. Its large area provided it with more plant and animal species suitable for domestication and allowed its people to exchange both innovations and diseases. Its east-west orientation allowed breeds domesticated in one part of the continent to be used elsewhere through similarities in climate and the cycle of seasons. In contrast, Australia suffered from a lack of useful animals due to extinction; the Americas had difficulty adapting crops domesticated at one latitude for use at other latitudes (and, in North America, adapting crops from one side of the Rocky Mountains to the other); and Africa was fragmented by its extreme variations in climate from north to south: plants and animals that flourished in one area never reached other areas where they could have flourished, because they could not survive the intervening environment. For other uses, see Extinction (disambiguation). ... World map showing the Americas CIA political map of the Americas The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World, consisting of the continents of North America[1] and South America with their associated islands and regions. ... This article is about the geographical term. ... For individual mountains named Rocky Mountain, see Rocky Mountain (disambiguation). ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ...

Hence Eurasia was able to support larger, denser populations, which made trade easier and technological progress faster than in other regions. These economic and technological advantages eventually enabled Europeans to conquer the peoples of the other continents in recent centuries.

Eurasia's dense populations, high level of trade, and living in close proximity to livestock made the transmission of diseases easy, and so natural selection forced Eurasians to develop immunity to a wide range of pathogens. So when Europeans made contact with America, European diseases ravaged the Native American population, rather than the other way around. This made it easier for relatively small numbers of Europeans to conquer much larger indigenous populations. Sheep are commonly bred as livestock. ... Immunity is a medical term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. ... A pathogen or infectious agent is a biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host. ...

Guns, Germs and Steel also offers a two-page explanation of why western European societies have been the dominant colonizers, and not other Eurasian powers (especially China).

  • Other advanced cultures developed in areas whose geography was conducive to large, monolithic, isolated empires. In these conditions policies of technological and social stagnation could persist - until Europeans arrived.
  • Europe's geography favoured balkanization into smaller, closer, nation-states. (It has more defensible natural borders.) As a result, policies suppressing material progress were out-competed relatively quickly. As an example of this national Darwinism, Diamond offers the disappearance of the counter-progressive Polish regime. He argues that geographical factors created the conditions for more rapid internal superpower change (Spain -> France -> England) than was possible elsewhere in Eurasia.

Balkanization is a geopolitical term originally used to describe the process of fragmentation or division of a region into smaller regions that are often hostile or non-cooperative with each other. ... Charles Darwin Darwinism is a term for the underlying theory in those ideas of Charles Darwin concerning evolution and natural selection. ...


Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that cities require an ample supply of food and thus depend on agriculture. As farmers do the work of providing food, others are free to pursue other functions, such as mining and literacy. (see Division of labor) The city of Los Angeles is an example of urbanisation Urbanization or Urbanisation (see difference in spelling) means the removal of the rural characteristics of a town or area, a process associated with the development of civilisation. ... Division of labour is the breakdown of labour into specific, circumscribed tasks for maximum efficiency of output in the context of manufacturing. ...

The crucial trigger for the development of agriculture is the availability of wild edible plant species suitable for domestication. Farming arose early in the Fertile Crescent since the area had an abundance of wild wheat and pulse species that were nutritious and easy to domesticate. In contrast, American farmers had to struggle to develop corn as a useful food from its probable wild ancestor, teosinte. This map shows the extent of the Fertile Crescent. ... Species T. aestivum T. boeoticum T. dicoccoides T. dicoccon T. durum T. monococcum T. spelta T. sphaerococcum T. timopheevii References:   ITIS 42236 2002-09-22 Wheat Wheat For the indie rock group, see Wheat (band). ... Pulses are defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as annual leguminous crops yielding from one to twelve grains or seeds of variable size, shape and color within a pod. ... Binomial name L. Corn (Zea mays L. ssp. ... species ssp. ...

Also important to the transition from hunter-gatherer to city-dwelling agrarian societies was the presence of large domesticable animals, raised for meat, work, and long-distance communication. Diamond identifies a mere 14 domesticated large mammal species worldwide. The five most useful (cow, horse, sheep, goat, and pig) are all descendants of species endemic to Eurasia. Of the remaining nine, only two (the llama and alpaca both of South America) are indigenous to a land outside the temperate region of Eurasia. Dogs and sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated. ... COW is an acronym for a number of things: Can of worms The COW programming language, an esoteric programming language. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... Species See text. ... This article is about the domestic species. ... For other uses, see Pig (disambiguation). ... In biology and ecology endemic means exclusively native to a place or biota, in contrast to cosmopolitan or introduced. ... For other uses, see Llama (disambiguation). ... This article is about a breed of domesticated ungulates. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ...

Due to the Anna Karenina principle, surprisingly few animals are suitable for domestication. Diamond identifies six criteria including the animal being sufficiently docile, gregarious, willing to breed in captivity and having a social dominance hierarchy. Therefore, none of the many African mammals such as the zebra, antelope, cape buffalo and African elephant were ever domesticated (although some can be tamed, they are not easily bred in captivity). The Holocene extinction event eliminated many of the megafauna that, had they survived, might have become candidate species, and Diamond argues that the pattern of extinction is more severe on continents where animals that had no prior experience of humans were exposed to humans who already possessed advanced hunting techniques (e.g. the Americas and Australia). The Anna Karenina principle was popularized by Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs and Steel to describe an endeavor in which a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms it to failure. ... For other uses, see Zebra (disambiguation). ... This article is about the herbivorous mammals. ... Species Syncerus caffer Subspecies Syncerus is a genus of bovines found in Africa, the only extant member of which is the African Buffalo, or Cape Buffalo. ... Distribution of Loxodonta africana (2007) Species Loxodonta adaurora (extinct) Loxodonta africana Loxodonta cyclotis African elephants are the two species of elephants in the genus Loxodonta, one of the two existing genera in Elephantidae. ... The Dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late 17th century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced animals that ate their eggs. ... It has been suggested that Charismatic megafauna be merged into this article or section. ... The Dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late 17th century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced animals that ate their eggs. ...

Smaller domesticable animals such as dogs, cats, chickens, and guinea pigs may be valuable in various ways to an agricultural society, but will not be adequate in themselves to sustain large-scale agrarian society. An important example is the use of larger animals such as cows and horses in plowing land, allowing for much greater crop productivity and the ability to farm a much wider variety of land and soil types than would be possible solely by human muscle power. Large domestic animals also have an important role in the transportation of goods and people over long distances, giving the societies that possess them considerable military and economic advantages. Trinomial name Canis lupus familiaris The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domestic subspecies of the wolf, a mammal of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. ... Binomial name Felis catus Linnaeus, 1758 Synonyms Felis lybica invalid junior synonym The cat (or domestic cat, house cat) is a small carnivorous mammal. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Guinea pig (disambiguation). ... For the constellation known as The Plough see Ursa Major. ...


Diamond also explains how geography shaped human migration, not simply by making travel difficult (particularly by latitude), but by how climates affect where domesticable animals can easily travel and where crops can ideally grow easily due to the sun. Human migration denotes any movement of groups of people from one locality to another, rather than of individual wanderers. ... This article is about the geographical term. ...

Modern humans are believed to have developed in Africa, east of the Great Rift Valley of the African continent, at one time or another (see Out of Africa theory). The Sahara kept people from migrating north to the Fertile Crescent, until later when the Nile River valley became accommodating. A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... This map shows the extent of the Fertile Crescent. ... There is also Nile, a death metal band from South Carolina, USA. The Nile in Egypt Length 6 695 km Elevation of the source 1 134 m Average discharge 2 830 m³/s Area watershed 3 400 000 km² Origin Africa Mouth the Mediterranean Basin countries Uganda - Sudan - Egypt The...

Diamond continues to explain the story of human development up to the modern era, through the rapid development of technology, and its dire consequences on hunter-gathering cultures around the world.


In the later context of the European colonization of the Americas, 95 percent of the indigenous populations are believed to have been killed off by diseases brought by the Europeans. Territories in the Americas colonized or claimed by a European great power in 1750. ... Natives of North America. ...

How was it then that diseases native to the American continents did not kill off Europeans? Diamond posits that the combined effect of the increased population densities supported by agriculture, and of close human proximity to domesticated animals leading to animal diseases infecting humans, resulted in European societies acquiring a much richer collection of dangerous pathogens to which European people had acquired immunity through natural selection (see the Black Death and other epidemics) during a longer time than was the case for Native American hunter-gatherers and farmers. He mentions the tropical diseases (mainly malaria) that limited European penetration into Africa as an exception. For other uses, see Natural selection (disambiguation). ... This article concerns the mid fourteenth century pandemic. ... Native Americans redirects here. ... In anthropology, the hunter-gatherer way of life is that led by certain societies of the Neolithic Era based on the exploitation of wild plants and animals. ... Malaria is a vector-borne infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites. ...


A thesis that seeks to explain why European (Western) culture and civilization has assumed its current pre-eminent position was always likely to generate controversy - not least because there are those who claim that it is not pre-eminent. Some critics of the book argue that it is derivative of the work of such cultural evolutionists as Leslie White, Julian Steward, and Ester Boserup, who analyzed the relationship between agriculture and economic and political growth; and such historians as William McNeill and Alfred Crosby, who analyzed the relationship between agriculture, European expansion, and disease. For alternative meanings for The West in the United States, see the U.S. West and American West. ... Cultural evolution is the structural change of a society and its values over time. ... Leslie Alvin White ([19 January [1900]], Salida Colorado -- 31 March 1975) was an anthropologist known for his advocacy of theories of cultural evolution and his role in creating the department of anthropology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. ... Julian Haynes Steward (January 31, 1902 – February 6, 1972) was an American anthropologist best known for his role in the development of a scientific theory of cultural evolution in the years following World War II. Steward was born in Washington, D.C. His father was the chief of the Board... Ester Boserup (1910 - September 24, 1999), born Børgesen, was a Danish economist and writer who studied economical and agricultural development. ... William H. McNeill (born 1917, Vancouver, British Columbia) is a Canadian historian. ... Alfred W. Crosby is a historian, professor and well-respected author. ...

Criticism can be grouped into three main lines of reasoning:


  • James Blaut offers what is probably the most exhaustive critique of Guns, Germs, and Steel . Blaut includes Jared Diamond as an example of a modern Eurocentric historian in his book Eight Eurocentric Historians[1]. Blaut asserts that Diamond has merely revived an old and discredited theory called Environmental Determinism.

History is replete with culture besting environment, says Blaut. Blaut also criticizes Diamond's loose use of the terms "Eurasia" and "innovative," which he says mislead the reader into presuming that Western Europe is responsible for technological inventions that actually took place in the Middle East and Asia. There is a likelihood that explanations for the successful spread of Western Civilisation could project an aura of scientific predestination onto the colonial-enrichment activities of Europeans during the last five centuries. Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism, is the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture. ...


Taylor accuses Diamond of assuming that Cortés was the victor because the European culture supplanted the Aztec. He says that this is a Eurocentric analysis. However, Diamond makes clear that the question he is answering is not who won, but who died (and why). [2] Other critics of the book argue that European ascendancy was far from inevitable, but rather a result of complex political and economic forces that must be viewed as a mosaic, not individually. Timothy Taylor or Tim Taylor could be Timothy Taylor (archaeologist), a British archaeologist Timothy Taylor (art dealer), an art dealer Timothy Taylor (Managing Editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives), Economist Timothy Taylor (brewery), a British brewery Tim Taylor (hockey), an ice hockey player Timothy Taylor (writer), a Canadian novelist... Hernán(do) Cortés Pizarro, 1st Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (1485–December 2, 1547) was the conquistador who became famous for leading the military expedition that initiated the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. ...

Political factors

  • Professor Victor Davis Hanson, a historian and conservative political columnist, agrees with Diamond in that he rejects a racial explanation for Western dominance, but Hanson argues that certain fundamental aspects of Western culture are responsible, specifically political freedom, capitalism, individualism, republicanism, rationalism, and open debate. Hanson has written that Diamond seems "terribly confused" about history, and that environment was "almost irrelevant" to Western success. [3] Supporters of Diamond, however, have argued that these cultural aspects were created because of the environment and resources at Europe's disposal. In fact, Diamond specifically cites the evolution of complex socio-political structures as a yield of the increased resources and environment which was being experienced by western europeans.

Victor Davis Hanson giving a lecture at Kenyon College. ...

Weaknesses in Precepts

There are also critics who, whilst not refuting the thesis of Guns, Germs and Steel, feel that the underlying arguments are weak.

  • Some researchers[citation needed] point out that Diamond’s "law of history" regarding the dominance of agricultural societies over their non-agricultural neighbours does not always hold true, such as the spread of hunting and gathering Inuits in Greenland at the expense of the agricultural Norse. While it has historically and prehistorically been the case that agricultural societies dispossess hunter gatherers Diamond's "law" highlights his oversimplification of the past. However, Diamond is careful to point out that many of his generalizations only apply to larger areas incorporating many groups of people. (Diamond's specific comment refers to the American Indians.)
  • Professor Tom Tomlinson argues in a review of Guns, Germs, and Steel that Diamond's approach ignores "much of the current literature on cultural interactions in modern history" and that Diamond omits "almost all of the standard literature on the history of imperialism and post-colonialism, world-systems, underdevelopment or socio-economic change over the last five hundred years."[4] Though Diamond's book is a popular history that is not primarily interested in engaging in academic debates, this point exposes a failure of the book to deal sufficiently with competing hypotheses that is especially problematic in light of Diamond's calls for history to be written as a science.

In anthropology, the hunter-gatherer way of life is that led by certain societies of the Neolithic Era based on the exploitation of wild plants and animals. ... Cecil Rhodes: Cape-Cairo railway project. ... This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Unlike former sociological theories, which presented general models of social change with particular focus at the societal level, world-systems theory (or world system perspective) explores the role and relationships between societies (and the subsequent changes produced by them). ... Underdevelopment is the state of an organism or of an organisation (e. ... Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA. In 1998 it won a Pulitzer Prize and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. ...

Responses to criticism

Anticipation of criticism

Before stating his main argument, Diamond considers three possible criticisms of his investigation (page 17):

"If we succeed in explaining how some people came to dominate other people, may this not seem to justify the domination? Doesn't it seem to say that the outcome was inevitable, and that it would therefore be futile to try to change the outcome today?" 
His answer is that this is a confusion of an explanation of causes with a justification of the results. "[Psychologists, social historians, and physicians] do not seek to justify murder, rape, genocide, and illness." Rather, they investigate causes to be able to stop the results.
Doesn't addressing the question "automatically involve a Eurocentric approach to history, a glorification of Europeans ..."? 
But, according to Diamond, "most of this book will deal with peoples other than Europeans." It will, he says, describe interactions between non-European peoples. "Far from glorifying peoples of European origin, we shall see that the most basic elements of their civilization were developed by peoples living elsewhere and were then imported to Europe."
"Don't words such as 'civilization,' and phrases such as 'rise of civilization,' convey the false impression that civilization is good, tribal hunter-gatherers are miserable, ...?" 
On the contrary, according to Diamond, civilization is a thoroughly mixed blessing, in ways that he describes.

Eurocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing emphasis on European (and, generally, Western) concerns, culture and values at the expense of those of other cultures. ...

Response to criticism of Eurocentrism and determinism

With regard to the question of whether or not there has been some sort of competition that has been "won and lost", Diamond asserts, in the third sentence of the prologue, that "the literate societies with metal tools have conquered or exterminated the other societies." It is possible that this defines the "competition" that Diamond attempts to explain, and that being conquered is a definite loss, even if not final or absolute. He says that in some cases (such as China) "absorbing the invader" is a long-term strategy for cultural survival that has proven successful, but in other cases – Aztec civilization for instance – the combination of germs and cultural shock has swept away the colonized culture. With regard to changes since AD 1500 in the power of southwest Asia compared with Europe, Diamond does touch on this in his conclusion, he says for example that SW Asia's intense agriculture damaged the environment, encouraged desertification, and hurt soil fertility. He argues that because central China has fewer geographical barriers (i.e. mountain ranges or bodies of water) than Europe, China was unified relatively early in its history (see Qin Dynasty), and that political homogeneity led to stagnation. Indeed, it is a matter of historical record that, circa 1500, during the Ming Dynasty, China's naval superiority over anything Europeans could field was terminated in a single political decision (the hai jin); in a Europe fragmented into hundreds of kingdoms and nation-states, no such authority existed. He also says that India on the other hand may have been too fragmented for a monumental rise in power similar to Europe's. In fact, many attempts were made to ban technologies such as firearms, but only in politically unified and isolated nations (such as Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate) were such bans successful. Still, it is true that the book is mostly concerned with developments from prehistory up to about AD 1500. Furthermore, Diamond's arguments are rather broad, and mostly argue that Eurasia (as opposed to Europe) would inevitably be dominant. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... The right of conquest is the purported right of a conqueror to territory taken by force of arms. ... For other uses, see Genocide (disambiguation). ... Aztec is a term used to refer to certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who achieved political and military dominance over large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the Late post-Classic... Moctezuma or Montezuma II, also known as Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (c. ... Qin Dynasty in 210 BC Capital Xianyang Language(s) Chinese Government Monarchy History  - Unification of China 221 BC  - Death of Qin Shi Huangdi 210 BC  - Surrender to Liu Bang 206 BC The Qin Dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chin Chao) (221 BC - 206 BC) was preceded by the... For other uses, see Ming. ... The Hai jin (海禁) was a ban on maritime activities during the mid-Ming Dynasty of China. ... The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family until 1868. ...

Diamond has answered the critique of historical counterexamples (in differing growth rates unrelated to material endowments) by claiming that these cases represent short-term growth over (at most) fifty year time windows. In the case of rapidly expanding economies (such as the "East Asian Tigers") the rapid growth is usually explained (in economics) as one country "catching-up" to the rest (cf. endogenous growth theory), through trade and technological transfer (which would have been very difficult between continents in the pre-1500 period the book concentrates on). Instances of civilizations stagnating or being conquered despite having access to superior resources than their neighbours are mentioned several times in this book; in Professor Diamond’s view these reversals of fortune support his thesis, providing a mechanism for the spread of cultural dynamism and technology within continents but not (until the "Age of Exploration") between them. (His later work, Collapse, tied environment and the fate of individual civilizations together more closely, but in Guns, Germs, and Steel his argument is made at the continental level, rather than the level of specific societies.) Map of East Asian Tigers  Hong Kong  Singapore South Korea  Taiwan, Republic of China Skyline of Hong Kong Island, taken from Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong The skyline of Singapores Central Business District (CBD) seen here at dusk Taipei is Taiwans largest city and financial center. ... Face-to-face trading interactions on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. ... In economics, endogenous growth theory or new growth theory was developed in the 1980s as a response to criticism of the neo-classical growth model. ... The so-called Age of Exploration was a period from the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century, during which European ships were traveled around the world to search for new trading routes and partners to feed burgeoning capitalism in Europe. ... Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed cover Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is a 2005 English-language book by University of California, Los Angeles geography professor Jared M. Diamond. ...

Diamond's view is undoubtedly largely "deterministic" in that it argues that Eurasian dominance was inevitable, or at least very likely (sometimes called Geographical determinism). Nevertheless, Diamond explicitly asks (on page 17) whether this inevitability would "justify the domination", and whether it renders futile modern attempts to "change the outcome". He denies that it does because the effects of proven environmental determinism could be easily nullified by contemporary transport and communication, whereas the effects of proven racial determinism might be used to justify genocide. Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism, is the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture. ...

Response to criticism of theory of history

In the epilogue Diamond discusses "The future of human history as a science", pre-empting the criticism that he fails to understand what history is about by defining what he thinks part of it should be. He contrasts various styles of historical interpretation, and compares these to the practice of other academics who call themselves "scientists". He says he is "optimistic that historical studies of human societies can be pursued as scientifically as studies of dinosaurs". For a List of scientists, see: List of anthropologists List of astronomers List of biologists List of chemists List of computer scientists List of economists List of engineers List of geologists List of inventors List of mathematicians List of meteorologists List of physicists Scientist pairs List of scientist pairs See...

See also

Language(s) Several hundred Indigenous Australian languages (many extinct or nearly so), Australian English, Australian Aboriginal English, Torres Strait Creole, Kriol Religion(s) Primarily Christian, with minorities of other religions including various forms of Traditional belief systems based around the Dreamtime Related ethnic groups see List of Indigenous Australian group... Marvin Harris Marvin Harris (August 18, 1927 – October 25, 2001) was an American anthropologist. ... The term Cultural materialism refers to two separate scholarly endeavours: It is an anthropological research paradigm championed most notably by Marvin Harris. ... Environmental determinism, also known as climatic determinism, is the view that the physical environment, rather than social conditions, determines culture. ... Climatic Determinism or Environmental determinism is an aspect of economic geography. ... Cultural ecology is ecology including humans. ... Natives of North America. ... Cecil Rhodes: Cape-Cairo railway project. ... Ishmael is a novel by Daniel Quinn. ... This article is about the video game. ... Smokeless powder Gunpowder is a pyrotechnic composition, an explosive mixture of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate that burns rapidly, producing volumes of hot gas which can be used as a propellant in firearms and fireworks. ... Gunpowder warfare is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder and the development of suitable weapons to use the explosive. ...


  1. Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton & Company, March 1997. ISBN 0-393-03891-2
  2. ABC Radio Transcripts: Why Societies Collapse: Jared Diamond at Princeton University http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/stories/s707591.htm
  3. James M. Blaut: Eight Eurocentric Historians. The Guilford Press, New York, 2000. ISBN 1-57230-591-6
  4. E. L. Jones: The European Miracle : Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia, 1981, Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (1987) ISBN 0-521-33670-8
- this is a more extensive discussion of the effects of geography on comparative Chinese and European development than is allowed in the final section of Professor Diamond's book, and predates it by sixteen years.

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