Why did history unfold differently on different continents? It is time for a change of perspective
It’s the early 1970’s, and we find ourselves in Papua New Guinea. Our author, an ornithologist on a research mission, is walking along the beach with a local politician, a native called Yali. While they are walking, Yali asks him a question that gives him an idea for his next piece of work. His question to Diamond was: how had his ancestors reached New Guinea over tens of thousands of years and how had white Europeans managed to colonise it in just 200? He asked why hadn’t other populations, such as the Chinese, the Incas, or the original inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent, boarded an armed fleet and sailed the oceans in search of lands to conquer?
The author was immediately struck by an idea: perhaps the reason for the turn that history had taken had nothing to do with the superiority of one race over another, as had been claimed by racists over the centuries. Maybe there was more to it than that. Perhaps it was the geographical characteristics of the territories where these people lived that determined the course of human history.