Monday, October 9, 2017

Jared Diamond. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W. W. Norton, 1999. 496 pages. $19.

Jared Diamond is a modern polymath. He is a professor of geography, but started out as a PhD in physiology. He is well known for drawing on multiple disciplines in his books, including anthropology, biology, and ecology. In addition to his significant academic training, he draws on personal experience living in Papua New Guinea for three decades. This particular book won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.  Note:

Diamond addresses the question of why Eurasian peoples conquered American, Australian, and African peoples -- and why wasn't it the other way around. Diamond explains (or more precisely, theorizes convincingly) why Eurasian people were so successful against much larger groups of people on their own land: it has to do with the domestication of plants and animals, the development of diseases, and even the languages that were written and spoken. Diamond's book presents a fantastic solution to a question that has often been answered in racist or at least ethnocentric terms.