Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 17, 1999 - Social Science - 528 pages
173 Reviews

"Fascinating.... Lays a foundation for understanding human history."—Bill Gates

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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User Review  - jimocracy - LibraryThing

This was a very insightful book that provided plausible theories that account for things I had wondered myself about human societies. I had always wondered why it was Europeans who created empires ... Read full review

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User Review  - Cheryl_in_CC_NV - LibraryThing

Couldn't read this thoroughly enough to judge fairly, but it seemed heavy on data and weak on careful unbiased analysis, to me. Read full review

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Contents

UP TO THE STARTING LINE What happened on all the continents before 11000 BC?
35
A NATURAL EXPERIMENT OF HISTORY How geography molded societies on Polynesian islands
53
COLLISION AT CAJAMARCA Why the Inca emperor Atahuallpa did not capture King Charles I of Spain
67
THE RISE AND SPREAD OF FOOD PRODUCTION
83
FARMER POWER The roots of guns germs and steel
85
HISTORYS HAVES AND HAVENOTS Geographic differences in the onset of food production
93
TO FARM OR NOT TO FARM Causes of the spread of food production
104
HOW TO MAKE AN ALMOND The unconscious development of ancient crops
114
FROM EGALITARIANISM TO KLEPTOCRACY The evolution of government and religion
265
AROUND THE WORLD IN FIVE CHAPTERS
291
YALIS PEOPLE The histories of Australia and New Guinea
293
HOW CHINA BECAME CHINESE The history of East Asia
320
SPEEDBOAT TO POLYNESIA The history of the Austronesian expansion
332
HEMISPHERES COLLIDING The histories of Eurasia and the Americas compared
352
How AFRICA BECAME BLACK The history of Africa
374
THE FUTURE OF HUMAN HISTORY AS A SCIENCE
401

APPLES OR INDIANS Why did peoples of some regions fail to domesticate plants?
131
ZEBRAS UNHAPPY MARRIAGES AND THE ANNA KARENINA PRINCIPLE Why were most big wild mammal species never domesticated?
157
SPACIOUS SKIES AND TILTED AXES Why did food production spread at different rates on different continents?
176
FROM FOOD TO GUNS GERMS AND STEEL
193
LETHAL GIFT OF LIVESTOCK The evolution of germs
195
BLUEPRINTS AND BORROWED LETTERS The evolution of writing
215
NECESSITYS MOTHER The evolution of technology
239
Guns Germs and Steel Today
424
Acknowledgments
439
Further Readings
440
Credits
470
Index
473
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Jared Diamond is professor of geography at UCLA and author of the best-selling Collapse and The Third Chimpanzee. He is a MacArthur Fellow and was awarded the National Medal of Science.

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