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12 May
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Book Review: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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I recently listened to the unabridged audio production of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. I can’t say that I really enjoyed this book. If you don’t mind a completely basic run through of how the three subjects have impacted human history you might be okay with this book. I however, thought this book was extremely dry and often found my mind wondering while I listened to it.

I should mention that I am one of the few people who did not enjoy this book. It has a 3.94 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads with 3,186 reviews. It has similar ratings on Amazon.com, 4 stars out of 5, with 1,201 reviews.

Here is the publishers blurb about the book:

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.

My final word on this one is to save your money and time, read something else. Like Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II which I am listening to now and enjoying immensely.

Click here to watch a C-SPAN video of Mr. Diamond discussing his book.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies”

  1. ADiff says:

    Diamond makes the case that accidents of geography were the basic reason for the ‘Rise of the West’, but fails to do so. If that were the case it should have risen far sooner than it did (those accidents and their ‘benefits’ were present for centuries when Europe was an isolated and marginal backwater…). As other commentators have pointed out, excluding culture from the equation, and ascribing all differences of outcomes to ‘luck’ may be satisfying to cultural relativsts, but the evidence supporting it just doesn’t hold up….which is true even for this wonderfully written voyage of charming speculation based on Diamond’s erudite (if realistically flawed) personal opinions. In any event it is a serious work, formulates an argument that while probably generally off target, still has some valuable contributions, and is very much worth reading!

  2. Matt Ammo says:

    I feel like I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t yet read this book. I’m going to have to order it today.

    Thanks!

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