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Guns, Germs and Steel
Read in 33 min.
Listen in 42 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs and Steel

An exciting journey through the history of humanity

Here’s a question that we have all asked ourselves at one point or another: “Why did Europeans colonise the world instead of the world colonising Europeans?” How come the aborigines didn’t round up a fleet of ships and sail the oceans in search of new lands to inhabit? Racism, ignorance and certain scientific disciplines would like to propose that our genetic, physical or intellectual differences hold the answers to this question, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In Guns, Germs and Steel,a revolutionary book, Professor Jared Diamond investigates these and other questions about the history of humanity. He does so with a blend of curiosity and a wealth of sources from several disciplines, presenting them in a new and interesting way that takes the reader on an exciting journey through the history of mankind and its relationship with the planet. 

Guns, Germs and Steel
Read in 33 min.
Listen in 42 min.

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.


The key ideas of "Guns, Germs and Steel"

Why did history unfold differently on different continents? It is time for a change of perspective
Geography and ecology are the two components that determine the initial advantage of a species, not superior genetics
It was already clear by the year 1500 that Europe would have imposed its dominance over the world
Members of primitive communities are generally smarter than Europeans
Thanks to the spoken word, man spreads and proliferates throughout the world
The characteristics of a country are the main discriminating factors for social stratification
The Europeans wiped out the Native Americans using technology and through illness
The discovery of agriculture changed the future of humankind
Plenty for some and nothing for others: why there is such disparity between countries
To cultivate or not to cultivate? How various peoples reacted to the agricultural revolution
How a plant species is domesticated for cultivation
Domestication did not always turn out to be the right choice for the population
Why did agriculture spread at different rates?
Why have many large mammals never been domesticated?
Illness and epidemics had a huge impact on the development of civilisation
Literacy played a key role in human evolution
Technology followed the same pattern as agriculture and writing
From gangs to states: as the population increases, so does its level of organisation
Diverse resources, different attitudes: how populations adapted and evolved
Take-home message
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