Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1998
Guns, Germs and Steel examines the rise of civilization and the issues its development has raised throughout history.
Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology. Diamond also dissects racial theories of global history, and the resulting work—Guns, Germs and Steel—is a major contribution to our understanding the evolution of human societies.
©1997 Jared Diamond (P)2011 Random House
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Samuel on 10-04-13

Controversial and Judgemental

I really enjoyed this audiobook, my wife, who studied anthropology did not! As with so many debates, the lack of accessible specialist literature on a subject of widespread interest leads to other specialisms filling the void, from an anthropologists view this happened here.

The mashing of the huge historical period and the geographical themes is understandable here, Diamond is a Geographer, and sees life in those terms, much as Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail, examine life as economists. Obviously, real life is more complicated, but by simplifying the discussions and applying a consistent paradigm,I felt I understood more about development than before.

Yes, I can see why Survival International don't like some of Diamond's narrative, there is certainly less sympathy for native peoples, but so what? If you download this you'll possibly move on to others of this type.

If anthropologists would suggest something to broaden my views I would be happy to access it, otherwise my reading list includes: Ian Morris, Niall Ferguson, Charles C. Mann, and David Landes!

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jim on 22-01-14

The definitive Audible purchase

I was defeteated by the text version of this listen despite finding the topic interesting and generally being happy to stick with challenging reads. I don't know whether it was Diamond's prose style or the relatively slow start but for whatever reason I just couldn't get past the first 50 pages. The audible version though was an entirely different proposition. It's well narrated; I stuck with early sections that did a good job of scene setting but gave me problems in print and by the end I was so fascinated by the combination of detailed research and sweeping vision that I listened to it again. Can't recommend this too highly for fans of non-fiction

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Doug on 25-08-11

Compelling pre-history and emergent history

This is a fascinating and foundational work that takes a topic (for me) shrouded in obscurity (how and why did civilization emerge in the pattern it did around the globe), and provides a vivid, detailed, and substantially convincing explanation. Thanks to GGS, I see world and cultural history with new eyes. That is pretty much the highest praise I can think of for a book.

I have a personal policy of ignoring (or at least trying to ignore) negative narrator reviews, as I find them always overstated. This reading is on the dry/flat/dull side, but it is still professional. The book is great and one of the most stimulating I have ever listened to. It is dense, but if you don't like fact, analysis, and theory, you wouldn't seek out this sort of book. Extremely highly recommended. It will change the way you see the world.

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41 of 45 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Daniel on 19-12-11

A story all should know, not all can endure

What a wealth of information! So amazing to think about the inevitabilities and chance occurrences that shaped our world. I wish I could recommend this book to all since it should be standard reading(listening). The down side is that its a bit of an endurance challenge to get through. There are a lot of numbers lists and .. vocally read charts. I doubt most could make it through this entire book. An abridged version might be more digestible.

Regardless, give it a try. You'll think about the world in a completely different way. But take your time, or else you'll burn out on this anvil of a book.

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40 of 46 people found this review helpful

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