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Guns, Germs, and Steel [Paperback]

Jared Diamond
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Product Description

From Amazon

Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist's answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye--and his heart--belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Most of this work deals with non-Europeans, but Diamond's thesis sheds light on why Western civilization became hegemonic: "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves." Those who domesticated plants and animals early got a head start on developing writing, government, technology, weapons of war, and immunity to deadly germs. (LJ 2/15/97)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

MacArthur fellow and UCLA evolutionary biologist Diamond (The Third Chimpanzee, 1992, etc.) takes as his theme no less than the rise of human civilizations. On the whole this is an impressive achievement, with nods to the historians, anthropologists, and others who have laid the groundwork. Diamond tells us that the impetus for the book came from a native New Guinea friend, Yali, who asked him, ``Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?'' The long and short of it, says Diamond, is biogeography. It just so happened that 13,000 years ago, with the ending of the last Ice Age, there was an area of the world better endowed with the flora and fauna that would lead to the take-off toward civilization: that valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers we now call the Fertile Crescent. There were found the wild stocks that became domesticated crops of wheat and barley. Flax was available for the development of cloth. There was an abundance of large mammals that could be domesticated: sheep, goats, cattle. Once agriculture is born and animals domesticated, a kind of positive feedback drives the growth toward civilization. People settle down; food surpluses can be stored so population grows. And with it comes a division of labor, the rise of an elite class, the codification of rules, and language. It happened, too, in China, and later in Mesoamerica. But the New World was not nearly as abundant in the good stuff. And like Africa, it is oriented North and South, resulting in different climates, which make the diffusion of agriculture and animals problematic. While you have heard many of these arguments before, Diamond has brought them together convincingly. The prose is not brilliant and there are apologies and redundancies that we could do without. But a fair answer to Yali's question this surely is, and gratifyingly, it makes clear that race has nothing to do with who does or does not develop cargo. (Book- of-the-Month Club/History Book Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


An epochal work. Diamond has written a summary of human history that can be accounted, for the time being, as Darwinian in its authority. -- Thomas M. Disch, The New Leader

Jared Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope . . . one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years." -- Colin Renfrew, Nature

No scientist brings more experience from the laboratory and field, none thinks more deeply about social issues or addresses them with greater clarity, than Jared Diamond as illustrated by Guns, Germs, and Steel. In this remarkably readable book he shows how history and biology can enrich one another to produce a deeper understanding of the human condition. -- Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

Serious, groundbreaking biological studies of human history only seem to come along once every generation or so. . . . Now [Guns, Germs, and Steel] must be added to their select number. . . . Diamond meshes technological mastery with historical sweep, anecdotal delight with broad conceptual vision, and command of sources with creative leaps. No finer work of its kind has been published this year, or for many past. -- Martin Sieff, Washington Times

From the Publisher

11 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jared Diamond, professor of physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine, is the author of the best-selling and award-winning The Third Chimpanzee. He has published over 200 articles in Discover, Natural History, Nature, and Geo magazines

From AudioFile

Grover Gardener does as well with scientific material as he does with more traditional literature, giving it spirit and vitality while sounding as interested in the information as readers will be. Although he doesn't pronounce "bonobo" (pigmy chimp) like the keepers in the zoo, nor "Tenochtitlán" like a Mexican, his technical pronunciation is otherwise flawless. The abridgment to one-third of the original does no serious damage, but only deprives readers the privilege of enjoying more of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the evolution of civilization. Few writers could ever take so complex a subject and render it as palatable and memorable as Professor Diamond. J.A.H. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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