Book Review: Guns Germs and Steel

To most people history is about stats, dates, events, and how individuals achieved glory and defied the odds. However history is a lot more than that.

Recently I read a book by Jared M. Diamond who tries to capture exactly this. Much like the older article published by him, I don’t fully agree with him and find his research to be too generic and non-comprehensive. The book’s coverage about India is very sketchy, which is true with almost all all western literature. Isn’t it surprising that the Europeans were once so desperate to discover India that they labeled civilizations even at the other end of the globe as Indians. Yet India, which is one of the oldest civilization and accounts for 1/6 of mankind, covers so little space in the history books.

Yet one should give him credit for scientifically breaching a subject that is not talked about by most. “Why did Europeans conquer the world and not the other way around?” “Why Africa, the so called cradle of human civilization fell so behind in the development tree?” “Why did the history of mankind revolved around Mediterranean sea? (Egypt, Greek, Rome, Persia, Italy, Spain)”

The book essentially argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. It highlights the GDP Density theory saying that flux (movement of ideas, people, goods and technology) and competition hardens the civilization and propels them to dominate the world.

The start of the book highlights the importance of domesticated (not tamed) animals & agriculture in dominant cultures. ( a complete U turn for someone who wrote that agriculture is the worst mistake by human race). He then highlights that germs & diseases were bred in tightly packed cities & villages that were possible due to domestication. Eurasia could develop immunity towards them due to long exposure but people in the new world (North & south America & Australia) were doomed. Infact more people were killed due to germs than in warfare.

 

Downsides:

 

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