Marty's Reviews > Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
by Jared Diamond
by Jared Diamond
When I was doing study abroad in Costa Rica, I wrote an essay that covered part of the ambitious theme that is tackled in Guns, Germs, and Steel. Little did I know at the time that Jared Diamond had addressed it in this comprehensive book--not only addressed it, but addressed it thoroughly, and, in fact, bordered on beating the topic to death ... bordered, but not crossed. When I later heard about the premise of Guns, Germs, and Steel, and since the topic of why Europeans had the edge up on other societies was one I had often been fascinated with, I knew that I had to read it. When I finally got the book, it started out being exactly what I was looking for, and I read with increasing interest. Then, at about the half way point, I noticed that I was becoming fatigued with the topic and ready for a slam bang conclusion. Unfortunately, I still had plenty of reading to go. The freshness of Diamond's ideas and approach were gone, and I really didn't feel like I was learning anything ground-breakingly new in the last half of the book. I kept on thinking, "Yeah, I believe you. No more examples." Now, that doesn't sound too flattering, but I think I must emphasize that I went into this reading with high expectations, and for the first half of the book, those expectations were met. That meant that Jared Diamond took a highly scientific and immensely broad subject and made it both personal and interesting; something not easily accomplished. Mr. Diamond's careful, if not meticulous view of each and every angle of the world's civilizations acts as both his strength and, for me, his eventual weakness. Though, I don't know if I can rightly adjust the blame of this to Jared Diamond, or whether I should attach it instead to the length of the history of the world. Too many civilizations over too many continents forced Mr. Diamond to address all of them or be faced with an incomplete academic exploration. Looking back on it, however, the perspective Jared Diamond provides is invaluable, and while there were a few instances where I felt that he was stepping into too much speculation, for the most part his logic was well grounded and felt indisputable. Above all, Mr. Diamond's case studies and examples brought the two facets of credibility and interest together, a pair that is not normally attributed to highly academic books. I finished the book with satisfaction, but also with relief. I only hope that our current civilizations don't change too much, if only for keeping this book to its current page limit. But if an extension is needed, I can't imagine anyone more worthy of it that Jared Diamond.
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