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

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
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Jul 24, 12

bookshelves: history, non-fiction, social-evolution, civilization, ethnology, culture-diffusion
Read from July 11 to 23, 2012, read count: 1

I was particularly impressed by the case made for the importance of literacy as a technology. Among other things.

"...We find it hard to avoid the conclusion that Atahuallpa 'should' have been more suspicious, if only his society had experienced a broader range of human behavior. Pizarro too arrived at Cajamarca with no information about the Incas other than what he had learned by interrogating the Inca subjects he encountered in 1527 and 1531. However, while Pizarro himself happened to be illiterate, he belonged to a literate tradition. From books, the Spaniards knew of many contemporary civilizations remote from Europe, and about several thousand years of European history. Pizarro explicitly modeled his ambush of Atahuallpa on the successful strategy of Cortes...In short, literacy made the Spaniards heirs to a huge body of knowledge about human behavior and history. By contrast, not only did Atahuallpa have no conception of the Spaniards themselves, and no personal experience of any other invaders from overseas, but he also had not even heard (or read) of similar threats to anyone else, anywhere else, anytime previously in history. That gulf of experience encouraged PIzarro to set his trap and Atahuallpa to walk into it" (p. 80).
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07/11/2012 page 65
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