GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL is nothing less than an enquiry into the reasons why Europe and the Near East became the cradle of modern societies-eventually giving rise to capitalism and science, the dominant forces in our contemporary world-and why, until modern times. Africa, Australasia and the Americas lagged behind in technological sophistication and in political and military power. The native peoples of those continents are still suffering the consequences.
Diamond shows definitively that the origins of this inequality in human fortunes cannot be laid at the door of race or inherent features of the people themselves. He argues that the inequality stems instaed from the differing natural resources available to the people of each continent.
About the Author
Jared Diamond is Professor of Physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Trained in physiology, he later took up the study of ecology and has made fundamental contributions to both disciplines. He is among the worlds leading zoologists and experts on birds. He has made many trips to the mountains of New Guinea to study their unique birds, rediscovered their long-lost bowerbird, and advises New Guinea governments on conservation. As well as writing technical articles in his many fields of interest, Jared Diamond writes regularly for popular science journals. He is married, and has twin sons.
The fate of the native Americans was sealed in the late Pleistocene when their ancestors, spreading across the continent, wiped out the large land mammals. The lack of suitable creatures to domesticate at a later stage of cultural development left the people with no resistance to the kind of germs - flu, tuberculosis, measles - that humans originally picked up from cattle and pigs. It was germ warfare that enabled a few boatloads of Spaniards to subjugate the Americas. Geography, climate and microbiology are the mainstays of Diamond's overview of evolution, which sets out to demolish racism and to answer the interesting question, 'Why did wealth and power become distributed as they now are, rather than in some other way?' He makes the answer seem so obvious that you think you could have figured it out for yourself. The very broad sweep entails some omissions and generalizations, but the result is a solid basis for the study of history. (Kirkus UK)
Published: July 1998
Publisher: Random House
Dimensions (cm): 19.3 x 13.2 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 0.39