Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 7

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Jared Diamond, the winner of the Pulitzer price, argues in this book quite convincingly that geographical and environmental factors shaped the world we live in. Societies that had the first crack in producing food and start agriculture advanced much quicker beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, developed writing, technologies, the state and also organized religion.

They also were the first do „develop“ germs and virus which came from living in close proximity to the animals and they also invented deadly weapons which gave them a major advantage when it came to conquering land and decimate culture that had been slower in adapting agriculture and therefore were often still in preliterate stages.

Jared Diamond offers a stunning analysis of why civilization emerged in the places in which it did and why societies that had a head start could keep it until today.

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples‘ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves” 

His main theory is that it is not racial biology that determines the victor in history but a complex combination of agriculture, population size, geography, and continental orientation. A theory that I found entirely fascinating and compelling. For the enourmous amount of research in an astounding number of fields like biology, agriculture, history, climatology, sociology, etc. I found the book refreshingly accessible. I can totally understand why Mr. Diamond received so much praiseand the Pulitzer for this important work written in a way that non-scientists can grasp quite easily.

“In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.”

“It’s striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.” 

Guns, Germs and Steel chronicles the way in which the world we live in started and convincingly dismantles any racially based theories on human history.

Follow up today’s recommendation with Yuval Noah Harari’s „Sapiens“ and Stephen Greenblatt’s „The Swerve

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