Saturday, August 23, 2008
Guns, Germs and Steel
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
I found this book to be incredibly interesting. Dr. Diamond, a professor of geography at UCLA and a National Medal of Science recipient, explores why some cultures were more successful than others over time in establishing civilizations and exporting their civilizations to other regions.
His basic premise is that there is no evidence that the successful cultures contained individuals of any higher intelligence on the whole than those cultures that were not successful, nor is there an innate difference between humans in different societies. Rather, successful societies became so because of a geographic luck of the draw. Those areas that were hospitable to domisticating large animals and food stuffs tended to have successful civilizations. If there was any other determining factors, it was physical obstacles such as mountain ranges that tended to discourage migration, and tribal size. Sheer numbers of humans tended to result in more successful societies as there were more inventors and more innovations to adopt.
I found this book fascinating. Dense with facts, I immediately turned back to the first page and started rereading when I finished, as there was much too much information for me to take in and assimilate as I'd like to on one reading. It is evident why this book won the Pulitizer Prize.