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Guns Germs and Steel, Theories Explained

Essay by   •  March 10, 2011  •  Essay  •  769 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,454 Views

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The book Guns, Germs, and Steel is about how many different things attributed to the succession of societies versus the destruction of other societies. The book starts out with the author, Jared Diamond, in New Guinea talking to a New Guinean politician named Yali. Yali asked Diamond "Why white men developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea where we black people had little cargo of our own?" Diamond was determined to seek an answer to Yali's question. Diamond surrounds his answer on how "History followed different courses for different people because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves." Some theories outlined or expressed in the book are Agriculture, Geography, and Genetics. The Obstacles that interfered with the spread of mankind are geography and germs. Yali's question influenced diamond to make his own investigation to seek the root causes of Eurasian dominance.

Diamond explains how geography shaped human migration, not simply by making travel difficult, but by how climates affect where domestic able animals can easily travel and where crops can ideally grow easily due to the sun. Seasonally variable climate at high latitude poses more diverse challenges than does a seasonally constant tropical climate. Cold climates require one to be more technologically inventive to survive, because one must build a warm home and make warm clothing. Whereas one can survive in the tropics with simpler housing and no clothing. The first step towards civilization is the move from hunter-gatherer to agriculture with the domestication and farming of wild crops and animals. Agricultural production leads to food surpluses and this in turn supports sedentary societies, rapid population growth, and specialization of labor. Large societies tend to develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracies, which leads in turn to the organization of empires. Although agriculture arose in several parts of the world, Eurasia gained an early advantage due to the availability of suitable plant and animal species for domestication. In particular, Mesopotamia had by far the best collection of plants and animals suitable for domestication, and Europe adopted Mesopotamia's animals, plants, and agricultural techniques. Also important to the transition from hunter-gatherer to city-dwelling agrarian societies was the presence of large domestic able animals, raised for meat, work, and long-distance communication. In A.D. 1500, European explorers became aware of the wide differences among the world's people in technology and political organization, they assumed that those differences arose from differences in innate ability. With rise of Darwin's theory, Explanations were in terms of natural selection and of evolutionary descent. Technologically primitive peoples were considered vestiges; the displacement of such peoples by colonists from industrialized societies exemplified the survival of the fittest.

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