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A Review of Guns, Germs and Steel, Book Review Example

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Words: 1317

Book Review

The title of the book is “guns, germs, and steel: the fates of human societies”. The author is Jared diamond. He tries to answer the problem, ‘Why do human civilization have diverse fates?’. The question has usually received racially prejudiced answers. Using information from many diverse fields, Jared Diamond convincingly shows that narrow setting and head starts can give much details of the line of human account. His inspirational writing will appreciated by wide readership.

In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel, J bed Diamond explains why history evolved in a different way for peoples from different geographic areas. He believes that ecological factors, like animal and plant domestication, brought civilizations benefits more than others did

Diamond starts with a study of human being pre-history, covering the increase of humans in the globe down to about 11000 BC. He brings in Polynesia as a “natural experiment”, an illustration on a lesser scale of his whole thesis. Diamond uses the meeting of the Inca Atahualpa and Spanish conquistador Pizarro at Cajamarca in 1532. It ended up in the victory of Pizarro and Atahualpa captured although they hay many disadvantages. The possible causes of this were domestic animals, technology, germs, and writing. That is where he gets the title of the book. Domestication of animals and plants or food production is what diamond finds as the main idea underlying these direct causes. He tries to explain when and where production originated and how it extended with population increase and emulation. He also describes why it never started in other regions.

Diamond rejects the thought that several people failed to take on agriculture, or accepted  it late, due to cultural characteristics  and backwardness. He proposes that Hunters and gatherers have a good knowledge of the possibility of the plants in their setting.

The same analysis is done for the domestication of large animals. In this case, Eurasia is found to be the most suitable species. Although it appeared that many others would have been domesticated majorly in Africa, they had traits, which do not allow. Lastly, diamond puts forward the major difference between the continents. That the primary axes for Africa and America is north south while the bloc of Eurasia is east  to west. Because plants depend on climate which varies mostly with latitude, domestic animals and crops might spread more easily across Eurasia.

On proximate causes, diamond concentrate more closely at technology, writing, centralized government and diseases. Infectious diseases brought about high levels of death in various populations throughout Australia and the new world. It was more frequent before direct interaction with European colonist. Unlikely, European penetration to the tropics was slow because of tropical diseases of old world which did not have immunities. Increased population concentration of Eurasia became a niche of new diseases. The availability of domestic animals became a reservoir of best candidates. Their spread was aided by the existing good communication between the continents.

Next he presents that Sumerian, Mexico, Egypt and china are possible origin of writing.  This was by Concentrating on the few uses of early systems of writing and it is spread by refinement and emulation. Diamond also writes about technological innovation. He states how it depends on technological innovation, autocatalytic feedback, easy diffusion of concepts and the size of population.

Other than the sole most significant effect of food availability was that coming up with reliable food excesses, it enabled large, inactive, and dense societies towards continuation. Diamond uses a simple state typology to show the relationship between social structures and population density and the progress from democratic societies to redistributive communities. He also explains the contributions of belief and ideology to political group.

Part four of the book explains a series of sample studies from different areas, basing on linguistic and archaeological evidence to restructure their history in the circumstance of the framework developed earlier. The author briefly touches at how early political unification and good communications produced China’s strange linguistic and cultural harmony. He also proceeds to the clash of the Old and New Worlds, analyzing the dates for the acceptance of agriculture, states, metallurgy, and writing in various regions. In addition, there is room for an immediate look at New World linguistics and short Norse links with North America[1].

In spite of geographical nearness, the New Guinea and parts of Australia had much different histories. Australia continued to be a continent of hunters and gatherers, whereas New Guinea was among the first centers of food production. However, it never developed federal states and agriculture never passed through the Torres Strait. Once again the explanations for this concerns ecological differences and environmental barriers. When Europeans build an industrialized state in Australia, they had to introduce the main elements like crops and technology from outside.

The Austronesia extension to the pacific and Southeast Asia beginning from Taiwan and Southern China about 3000 BC was the most important movements of human history. Prepared with outrigger domestic animals, canoes, and farming, Austronesia speaking peoples overran and substituted the gatherer-hunter populations of Indonesia and those of Philippines, and eventually expanded into the Pacific in the Polynesian Diaspora. Nevertheless, the Austronesians failed to make a way into New Guinea. They did not have any major impact on Australia.

Ecology is also a main factor behind the complex human layout of sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture and iron working powered the expansion of Bantu into southern Africa, displacing the khoi-san and the pygmies. The uniqueness of their crops shows why they stopped at the Fly River and leaving it to European settlers with appropriate crops to bring in agriculture to South Africa. In addition, the unexpected Austronesia settlement of Madagascar has a very long story.

A statement on expectations of human account as a science suggests using the approach germs, guns and steel shorter time and minor geographic scales. Diamond proposes geographical fragmentation that produces the best standard of opinionated unity as a reason as to why it was Europe and not China that finally lead in technological improvement within Eurasia. He also suggests briefly alternatives to ecological explanations like cultural factors, and eccentric individuals. He argues that history ought to be considered a science, with common methods with the other historical sciences, although he scarcely scrapes the surface of the epistemological concerns this raises.

At the beginning, Diamond says, “since Toynbee’s attempt, worldwide syntheses of historical causation have fallen into disfavor among most historians, as posing an apparently intractable problem”. This disapproval is not entirely determined, though, so Diamond do not elaborate is not satisfying. Despite the size of Guns, Germs and Steel, it does not begin to be a general separation of historical causation. More explanations require the incantation of forms of historical happenings on which Diamond does not touch at all.

Diamond writes about amazing areas of study, even though there are some disciplines where he is not so well knowledgeable. Religion, for instance, is to him a small part of the state, giving a valid reason for conquest and a way of inspiring personal give up for the combined good. This unproven functionalism barely stands up to serious examination[2].

However, complaining a lot on his work would be harsh, given the extent of Diamond’s success. There are strengths in it. He has come up with wonderful work of archaeology, synthesis, linguistics, bringing together history, agriculture, medicine and many various fields. It is difficult to evaluate how well built his whole thesis is, nonetheless he is persuasive and has the right broad idea. Even those who differ with Diamond‘s work completely will be grateful for this book. Most parts of which can stand by its own. Germs, gun and Steel is a reserve that appeals to everyone who enjoys history and popular science.

Bibliography

Jared, Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W. W. Norton, 1999.

[1] Jared, Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W. W. Norton, 1999.

[2] Jared, Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W. W. Norton, 1999.

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