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Guns, Germs, and Steel

30 Mar 2015

One of the more eye opening books I have read in a while, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a look at why some parts of the world advanced faster than other parts. It is obvious looking around the world today that there are countries with more advanced technologies, agriculture, and germs. Moreover from history class you recall that europeans were able to overrun natives all of the world as they colonized the new world. What is not actually obvious is why? Why did Spainards arrive in the Americas with germs and advanced military technology that allowed them to conquer the natives rather than the other way around? This book answers that question.

I really enjoy history especially the study of ultimate causes. We know why the europeans destroyed the indigious people in the Americas, they had more firepower, were resistant to certain diseases, and were more organized. But that is not the ultimate cause. The ultimate cause had to do solely with an accident of geography. Eurasia had a headstart on food production and building resistance to germs because of the climate, existence of easier to domesicate crops and animals, and a favorable major axis. There are a few other reasons, and all of them are laid out in detail in this book. The one answer thatis not true is that it is not that certain people are less intelligent or naturally not as good as another. This book is clear to dispel of this racist answer by providing a convincing case for the real answer.

One issue with this book was that while quite interesting, it was still pretty boring. I think this was mostly writing style and the tendency of the author to repeat himself. After a couple hundred pages you get the point, but he keeps hammering it home with more examples. While this is nice to cover all the bases, it still made it somewhat difficult to slog through to the end. Nonetheless, I recommend it to anyone interested in world history.


Category: book