Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Written by Jared Diamond


In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond tries to answer big questions about human history over the past 13,000 years.  He draws from his wide-ranging knowledge of medicine, evolutionary biology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, and geography to support his claims.

Diamond shares his thoughts on how civilization develops over time in different ways in response to environmental factors and physical barriers to travel. He argues that greater availability of domesticable plants and animals in Eurasia made the development of agriculture and animal husbandry spread more quickly than in sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.  Significant physical barriers such as the Sahara Desert and large bodies of water also impeded the rapid spread of these new capabilities in sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.

The title of this book has great significance.  Interactions between people from different areas resulted in conquest and the spread of deadly diseases. I was shocked by the devastating impact germs and diseases had, killing large portions of the population that had not been previously exposed. 

Diamond is skilled at crossing disciplinary boundaries and bringing new insights to light in a thoughtful manner. If you are interested in how the world came to be, this book is for you! Guns, Germs, and Steel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977. 

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