Many of the Pieces, Perhaps...But the Whole Puzzle?,
This review is from: Guns Germs And Steel (Hardcover)Having just finished this book, I have mixed feelings about the conclusions. First, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Reading this book is not a waste of time by any stretch of the imagination, so the one star reviews posted here are simply ridiculous. Having said that, I don't believe for a second that Mr. Diamond can be considered even remotely objective; political correctness and an unfair judgment of Europeans is a large part of this book, which is unfortunate.
The positive aspects of this book are numerous. A carefully organized voyage through human history, describing the origins of farming, animal domestication, population expansion, language and writing development, new technologies, colonization of new continents, and more. All this information, and presented in a nice writing style with a logical progression. You can't help but feel more knowledgeable and informed on many aspects of human civilization after reading this book.
The drawbacks to this book are simple: unfairness. Mr. Diamond rarely discusses European civilization and its benefits, instead describing colonization by Europeans as "catastrophic" under all circumstances. Some of his assertions as to why other peoples/continents lagged behind Europe in advancement and technology are quite reasonable, and probably correct. Others are glossed over quickly in hopes that the reader doesn't start to think about it too much. In regards to all the great geniuses that Europe has produced, he explains that they're "wild cards", and nobody knows how they figure into the grand scheme of human history. His view that New Guineans are smarter than Europeans (and white North Americans) is absolutely ludicrous. His basis for this judgment is that New Guineans are good at remembering jungle paths and plantlife, while white people watch too much TV. What!!? Hmmm...or could it be that if you had arrived at the conclusion that Europeans were smarter this book would never have been published, and you would have been dismissed as a racist! It's interesting to see that people are still against bigotry, unless it's aimed at white people.
Those are some of the thoughts I had while reading "Guns, Germs, and Steel". It is definitely a worthwhile read for someone interested in human history and the dawn of civilization. Just be warned that this book is written from an extremely one-sided viewpoint, with Europeans and people of European descent not getting the credit they deserve.