Manderson's Reviews > Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
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's review
Mar 06, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in March, 2008

This book takes a hard question and looks it straight in the eye, and patiently and dispassionately exorcises it of demons. The question Mr. Diamond addresses is: why is it that some cultures, races, and nations conquered others? This is the type of question that most people avoid even contemplating, due to its seemingly underlying racist assumptions. But the answers that are brought forth completely eliminate any possible basis for racism, and instead establish the factors of simple chance based on evolution due to geography and environment. A lot of the other reviewers on this site seemed to be off-put or mortified by Mr. Diamond's research, and I don't really understand them. This book is powerful in it's insistence on historical truth and scientific understanding, and its multidisciplinary integration is truly groundbreaking. I think this is a great companion book to philosophical treatises like The Life Divine or Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, in that it takes evolutionary findings and puts them together into a cohesive vision of mankind's fumbling progression into the future.
The book admittedly gets dry and the author browbeats his points, just to make sure he's being completely clear. But I also think that this is a necessary diligence on his part, in that he recognizes that his subject will draw controversy. I would call this book a must-read to anyone wanting to gain a clearer understanding of the underlying forces of history.

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