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

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

ISBN13: 9780393317558
ISBN10: 0393317552
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race.

Until around 11,000 b.c., all peoples were still Stone Age hunter/gatherers. At that point, a great divide occurred in the rates that human societies evolved. In Eurasia, parts of the Americas, and Africa, farming became the prevailing mode of existence when indigenous wild plants and animals were domesticated by prehistoric planters and herders. As Jared Diamond vividly reveals, the very people who gained a head start in producing food would collide with preliterate cultures, shaping the modern world through conquest, displacement, and genocide.

The paths that lead from scattered centers of food to broad bands of settlement had a great deal to do with climate and geography. But how did differences in societies arise? Why weren't native Australians, Americans, or Africans the ones to colonize Europe? Diamond dismantles pernicious racial theories tracing societal differences to biological differences.

He assembles convincing evidence linking germs to domestication of animals, germs that Eurasians then spread in epidemic proportions in their voyages of discovery. In its sweep, Guns, Germs and Steel encompasses the rise of agriculture, technology, writing, government, and religion, providing a unifying theory of human history as intriguing as the histories of dinosaurs and glaciers.

Review:

"Jared 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 developed. . . .Reading Diamond is like watching someone riding a unicycle, balancing an eel on his nose and juggling five squealing piglets. You may or may not agree with him (I usually do), but he rivets your attention." Alfred W. Crosby, Los Angeles Times

Review:

"An artful, informative and delightful book." William H McNeil, The New York Review of Books

Review:

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

Review:

"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 most important forces of human history." David Brown, Washington Post Book Word

Synopsis:

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. With a new chapter. The phenomenal bestseller; over 1.5 million copies sold; is now a major PBS special.

Synopsis:

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.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 429-457) and index.

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Yali's question: The regionally differing courses of history — From Eden to Cajamarca. Up to the starting line: What happened on all the continents before 11,000 B.C.? — A natural experiment of history: How geography molded societies on Polynesian islands — Collision at Cajamarca: Why the Inca emperor Atahuallpa did not capture King Charles I of Spain — The rise and spread of food production. Farmer power: The roots of guns, germs, and steel — History's haves and have-nots: Geographic differences in the onset of food production — To farm or not to farm: Causes of the spread of food production — How to make an almond: The unconscious development of ancient crops — Apples or indians: Why did peoples of some regions fail to domesticate plants? — Zebras, unhappy marriages, and the Anna Karenina principle: Why were most big wild mammal species never domesticated? — Spacious skies and tilted axes: Why did food production spread at different rates on different continents? — From food to guns, germs, and steel. Lethal gift of livestock: The evolution of germs — Blueprints and borrowed letters: The evolution of writing — Necessity's mother: The evolution of technology — From egalitarianism to kleptocracy: The evolution of government and religion — Around the world in five chapters. Yali's people: The histories of Australia and New Guinea — How China became Chinese: The history of East Asia — Speedboat to Polynesia: The history of Austronesian expansion — Hemispheres colliding: The histories of Eurasia and the Americas compared — How Africa became black: The history of Africa — The future of human history as a science — The future of human history of a science. 2003 afterword: Guns, germs, and steel today.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

zorathruster, December 28, 2012 (view all comments by zorathruster)
Excellent concept which explains human cultural evolution. The tie to geographical constraints on specific societies formulates a basis for present human social structures. Repetitive and occasionally deeper than the average reader can dig into, other than that well written and to the point.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
A J MACLAREN, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by A J MACLAREN)
Diamond traces the history of human settlements around the world and why some succeeded and others didn't. His evidence is a fascinating mix of language studies and archeological evidence. Not a book you finish in one reading.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
ltobin, November 5, 2011 (view all comments by ltobin)
A bit of an academic read, Diamond takes a direct approach to describing why and how groups of people evolved at different rates on separate continents. Although interesting and thought-provoking, many of Diamond's insights were "duh" moments for me as it all seemed rather obvious at the end of each chapter (of course environment would have such a strong influence).

A good read if you have the time, I think I would have enjoyed the book more on audio.
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View all 8 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393317558
Subtitle:
The Fates of Human Societies
Author:
Diamond, Jared
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Location:
New York :
Subject:
History
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Ethnology
Subject:
Anthropology
Subject:
Culture
Subject:
Human Geography
Subject:
Human beings
Subject:
Social evolution
Subject:
Effect of environment on
Subject:
Culture diffusion
Subject:
Geografâia
Subject:
Historâia
Subject:
Geologia historica
Subject:
Anthropology - General
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Norton pbk. ed.
Series Volume:
no. 56
Publication Date:
19990431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.3 x 6.1 x 1.5 in 1.26 lb

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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.50 In Stock
Product details 496 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393317558 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Jared 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 developed. . . .Reading Diamond is like watching someone riding a unicycle, balancing an eel on his nose and juggling five squealing piglets. You may or may not agree with him (I usually do), but he rivets your attention."
"Review" by , "An artful, informative and delightful book."
"Review" by , "The scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding."
"Review" by , "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 most important forces of human history."
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. With a new chapter. The phenomenal bestseller; over 1.5 million copies sold; is now a major PBS special.
"Synopsis" by , 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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