“Guns, Germs, and Steel” Review

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I have always had a rough time wrapping my head around the concept that there are people in this world who are extremely wealthy, while others are suffering in poverty and starvation. Jared Diamond’s theory of geographic location being the dividing factor between the winners and the losers shed a lot of new light on this issue. Most people don’t really consider geography to be a contributing factor of the European, or white, dominance that has taken place around the globe for centuries. Most people have a more ignorant view that the difference in intelligence levels among different races is the reason that some regions of the world have had a harder time developing; I have never believed that to be the truth. Diamond’s intensive research and time spent traveling all over the world has allowed him to accumulate evidence that fully supports his more realistic theory. Although power was awarded to the people of Eurasia due to a simple account of good fortune, it took no time at all for them to abuse the gift they were given at the disadvantage of those less fortunate.

According to Diamond’s theory, geographic location was the most important factor that determined how quickly and efficiently ancient societies developed. The Fertile Crescent is believed to have had a huge impact in support of this theory. This section of land, located in the Middle East, had the perfect climate and weather conditions for agricultural growth and had the most productive native animals. Environmental factors such as sunlight and wind also aided these crops in growth and allowed them to spread on their own through pollination. Among this crescent were native animal breeds that were perfect for livestock and capable of domestication for labor and mobility uses. The ancient people who lived around this area were extremely lucky to be located in such close proximity to the crescent, not even realizing how crucial their area of settlement would be to the civilization of the world. As Jared Diamond proposed, “What separated winners from losers were the crops themselves.”

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The environment, native crops and animals, and agricultural practices are believed to be the building blocks of the development of civilizations. Areas with an abundance of food, like Egypt, were able to sustain a much greater population than those areas with arid, unfertile land. With large populations, came human complexity. Because these heavily populated societies had so many crops and animals to keep track of, they had to come up with some system to maintain inventory. The first record of written language derives from these agricultural based societies. Writing is another important factor that separated those societies who developed from those who stagnated. The development of a written language was a stepping-stone to accumulated knowledge. Having knowledge in a tangible form made it easy and accessible for a large number of people to be aware of recent discoveries. This accumulation of knowledge eventually led to the development of steel and weaponry.

After years of experimentation with steel, the written records of trail and error allowed tools and weapons to eventually be developed. The accumulation of knowledge and weapons along with the domestication of horses were the resources the people of Eurasia needed for world dominance, and they soon began to realize just how powerful they could be. Once the people of Eurasia were civilized and had enough technology to travel into unknown territories, trouble soon arose. Their first encounters with other human beings were peaceful, they kept their distance and simply observed. Once the people of Eurasia realized how much more powerful and advanced they were than these undeveloped societies, greed and power blinded their perception of human live. They saw these other societies as their inferiors, and saw their land as an opportunity of conquest. The civilized soon took over much of the surrounding lands that were already occupied, and made the occupants their slaves in order to get even further ahead.

Once maritime technology came into play, conquest reached a whole new level. For example, when Francis Pizarro lead his Spanish troops to the Inca Empire. Thousands of Incas were slaughtered and their emperor was captured. And to make matters worse for the Incas, the Europeans carried diseases that the indigenous people had no immunity to. Small pox spread like wild fire amongst the survivors of the Inca Empire, leading the Spanish to victory of conquest. Now the people of Eurasia posed even more of a threat to these underdeveloped countries. Even being in physical contact with indigenous people caused a threat to their well-being.

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, And Steel is a magnificent demonstration of what truly determined the strong from the weak, the winners from the losers, and the prosperous from the stagnant. It is amazing to see how influential geographic location is in regards to how the world is today. Even though these events and developments accumulated through the centuries, the everlasting effects are still evident in today’s society. There is still a clear line between the rich and the poor. The wealthy are not concerned about the well-being of the less fortunate, just as they weren’t in the past. All that matters is that the people, who are on top, stay on top. The divide will always remain; it is a fact of life and economics. It is sad to see that something so simple and meant to be so harmless as geographic location of humans on this Earth has created such a divide in the human race: a divide so great as to cause hate and racism against one another. Jared Diamond’s experiences and research shed light on an eye-opening concept, one that more people should be aware of. Racial superiority isn’t a realistic theory; no race is more intelligent or capable of advancement than another. The civilization of our world was lead by the Earth itself and the resources that it supplied us with; some were just luckier than others.

Work Cited

  1. “Out of Eden.” Films Media Group, 2004, fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=237224&xtid=40760. Accessed 10 Dec. 2018.

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