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Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years Kindle Edition
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From the Back Cover
Why has human history unfolded so differently across the globe?
Jared Diamond puts the case that geography and biogeography, not race, moulded the contrasting fates of Europeans, Asians, Native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, and aboriginal Australians.
An ambitious synthesis of history, biology, ecology and linguistics, Guns, Germs and Steel is a ground-breaking and humane work of popular science.
‘The most absorbing account on offer of the emergence of a world divided between have and have-nots... Never before put together so coherently, with such a combination of expertise, charm and compassion’ The Times
‘A book of remarkable scope... One of the most important and readable works on the human past’ Nature
‘Fascinating, coherent, compassionate and completely accessible’ Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File Size : 66570 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 571 pages
- Publisher : Vintage Digital (4 July 2013)
- ASIN : B00DQ8GDV8
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #120 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Hence, it is path breaking, inspiring, there is a lot of detail (and yes, of course, some speculation) and will be a great experience for someone ready to invest his/her time to understand human societies.
P.S. There is a documentary, based on this book, by National Geographic, which is quite gripping.
A lot of information has been repeated quite a few times in order for them to "stick" in reader's mind. After reading it one would be able to see the author's inferences and worldview quite clearly. This book is the answer to humanity's so many questions.
Jared Diamond is an enviable polymath - he has significant knowledge on multiple fields including anthropology, biology, ecology, and geography and puts together this knowledge in Guns, Germs and Steel for us to understand how humans evolved the way they did. He seeks to answer a question put to him by a politician acquaintance in New Guinea, basically, why human development occured at different rates on different continents. Or in other words, why didn't native Americans reach Europe and colonise it rather than the other way around. Diamond repeatedly makes the point that race had nothing to do with this. He attempts to answer this basic question over 500 pages, by discussing the history of human evolution, the progress of food production, the translation of that into guns, germs and steel (the building blocks that enabled some humans to develop faster than others) and then finally gives examples of such different rates of development across different parts of the world.
As to be expected with a book of this size exploring just a single question, parts of the book are dry to read and some parts are repetitive. The lack of the fifth star in the rating is simply on account of this. But the book succeeded in making me think of issues that I would never have and gives an entirely different perspective of commonly-held beliefs about human evolution. And during this journey, I picked up some fascinating pieces of information. For example, that the first cultivated plants in the Americas (bottle gourd) was not as food but as containers. Or that of the modern world's 6,000 languages, 1,000 belong to just New Guinea! All of this makes the book a satisfying read eventually.
Pros: Extremely informative, challenges commonly-held views about human evolution, interesting trivia
Cons: Laborious read, repetitive at parts
Top reviews from other countries
Others reviewers have said its a dry read. Believe me, its not! I have read scientific journals much drier than this! Inevitably some of the topics, such how some plants and animals have been domesticated can be a dry topic, but the author does a really good job in making the explanations easier to follow.
The astonishing thing about this book is that it has pulled evidence from a wide variety of sources to build up such a coherent and plausible picture. The author is a genuine polymath and his masterly analysis of topics from such a wide variety of scientific and historical fields is breathtaking. It was fully deserving of its Pulitzer prize
Its easy to see why this book is unpopular with some sections of society, it undermines the basis of many other theories about racial, cultural and religeous supremacy. I am convinced however, that this will be seen as one of a select few landmark books that shape the way we perceive our origins in the years to come.
The Kindle version is good conversion of the original book. The diagrams can be effectively magnified to fill the page, the tables do not loose format and there are hyperlinks to the tables and diagrams included within the text where necessary. Unfortunately the plate illustrations have not been included, probably to reduce the overall file size; however, I did not find this to be a problem in following the arguments within the text.
The book seems to be premised around the notion of the Great Leap Forward. However three recent discoveries would seem to seriously call into question this notion; Pre-Clovis occupation 14,550 years ago at the Page-Ladson site, Florida; U-Th dating of carbonate crusts has revealed Neandertal origin of Iberian cave art; a bone fragment from Denisova Cave (Russia) shows that it came from an individual who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.
I will happily read the rest of the book, when the author reviews his theories in the light of these recent developments.
My chief issue though is the stupidly small font. It was a chore to read frankly and had I opened this before the expiry date for returns I’d have sent it back once I saw the font.
It sounds like a petty thing to mention but when it’s a thick book on a dense topic having it in what seems like 7pt just makes no sense whatsoever. The publisher really ought to know better.