Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond Rothdas book review RSS
3.0 Stars
1-1-2015

After reading the very enjoyable and informative _Collapse_, this was a disappointment. First, it is not about the way enterprising European's spread enlightenment using the above mentioned tools. Rather, the book is about how the Europeans gained those tools in the first place. The main reason that Diamond gives will be obvious to anyone who has played Civ: the societies with more opportunities for tech trading advanced along the tree faster and so became dominant. Seems reasonable enough, though it doesn't explain why it was Eur part of Eurasia that first kicked it up a notch. There were a couple of less obvious thoughts in the book, such as how areas with the same latitude will have an easier time exchanging farming and other technologies, since all else being equal they will have similar environments. This makes agricultural tech trading much easier along the broad east-to-west axis of Eurasia, and much more difficult along the north-south axis of the Americas. Also nice was the idea that close proximity to cattle and other animals was responsible for Eurasia's increased germ resistance, and the chapter about the difficulties of taming different animal species. I enjoyed these parts, and a few parts where Diamond summarizes others research. However, in many cases I think Diamond overreaches, and makes broad assertions about complex problems based on very flimsy, 10,000 year old data. I would have appreciated less of that, and less of Diamond's somewhat overboard PCness. In this regard the intro is particularly bad. First Diamond calls into question the idea of a generalized intelligence, then he claims that New Guineans are smarter than their western counterparts. Next he says that the idea that there is a racial component to intelligence is loathsome, and then he proceeds to lay out his theory as to why the New Guineans have been genetically selected for intelligence. Contradictions like this in the introduction really decrease my confidence in the rest of his assertions.