Guns, Germs, and Steel

  • by Jared Diamond
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this groundbreaking work, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for history's broadest patterns. It is a story that spans 13,000 years of human history, beginning when Stone Age hunter-gatherers constituted the entire human population. Guns, Germs, and Steel is a world history that really is a history of all the world's peoples, a unified narrative of human life.

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What the Critics Say

"The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding." (The New Yorker)
"Guns, Germs, and Steel is an artful, informative, and delightful book....There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject." (The New York Review of Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good writer, flawed theory

Jared Diamond is an excellent author, and so would this book be, if only his theorizing were true and unflawed. But it's not. He starts the book by stating that he's out to destroy the claim that genetic differences is the cause of the global disparity in civilizational achivement between different peoples and races, a claim he considers low and immoral. Then he proceeds by asserting that the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea are genetically superior to whites. This self-contradiction is not rendered any less stupid by the fact that it's done without reference to any evidence beyond the mere hunch of the author.

The main argument of the book is that different peoples have made civilizations that differ not because the peoples themselves are of varying genetic giftedness, but because they've been unequally procured by their respective environments with the ingredients necessary for civilization-building, chiefly: crops suitable for agriculture, animals suitable for domestication, soil suitable for farming, and habitats spacious enough to support the numbers of humans needed to preserve knowledge through hard times, and located in connection to other sites of civilization in an horizontal fashion, rather than a vertical one. This argument is all very well and quite plausible, but mr. Diamond forgets something. Although it's possible that it was the uniquely beneficial environment which laid the foundation for the Eurasian civilizational preeminence, that doesn't prove that all races are equally intellectually gifted today. Instead, it might very well be that once the civilizational process is begun, there emerges a feedback effect, which by making the more intelligent in each generation more fit for reproduction, gradually increases the overall cognitive ability of the peoples inhabiting the evolving civilisations. Being smart in civilization is beneficial for your chances of reproducing yourself, and so the smarties get more numerous. Mr. Diamond doesn't see this.
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- Oscar

The review mentioning New Guinea is wrong.

"Then he proceeds by asserting that the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea are genetically superior to whites. This self-contradiction is not rendered any less stupid by the fact that it's done without reference to any evidence beyond the mere hunch of the author."
This reviewer says it is the "mere hunch" of the author. I disagree strongly. The author states it as a theory and gives several good reasons from his years of study. He does NOT say that they are inherently better than whites, but they are genetically superior because they have be more self-sufficient and the ones who are not self-sufficient die off much more quickly. If I had lived at another time, I may have been an invalid or died at an early age due to an accident with my poor eyesight and allergies. In this age, I am probably healthier than most. Not my favorite book, but certainly not bad.
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- Alex

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-28-2005
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books