Guns germs and steel thesis summary

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Guns, Germs and Steel Prologue

This may seem a simple question, but Diamond found it difficult to answer. Diamond suggests that this cannot be attributed solely to colonization, as continents already differed greatly prior to this period. He recognizes the significance of colonization in propagating inequality, as empires with strong weaponry conquered tribes with more primitive tools.

Still, there remains the question of how humanity reached this point. See more popular or the latest prezis. Download Cancel. Width: pixels Height: pixels. Constrain to simple back and forward steps. Copy code to clipboard. Send email. Send to group. Start presenting Close.

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Log in. Houston, we have a problem! Stand out and be remembered with Prezi, the secret weapon of great presenters. In , Francisco Pizarro and a band of Spaniards punctured the heart of the Inca Empire and proceeded to capture its emperor, decimate its citizens, and plunder its gold. Why didn't the Incas sail to Europe, capture Charles V, kill his subjects, and loot his castles and cathedrals?

Why have Europeans tended to dominate other peoples on other continents? Does it have something to In , Francisco Pizarro and a band of Spaniards punctured the heart of the Inca Empire and proceeded to capture its emperor, decimate its citizens, and plunder its gold. Does it have something to do with race? Were Europeans cleverer than other races? Diamond says no. It wasn't racial characteristics that tipped the scales of fortune for the Europeans; it was their geography. Their geography gave them access to the best domestic grains and animals, which led to specialization and advanced technologies like steel and guns.

Their domestic animals also helped them develop potent germs, and the antibodies for those germs. The importance Diamond lays at the hoofs and paws of domesticated animals is, in fact, one of the fascinating themes of the book. Diamond's point is that people living in areas with more domesticable animals sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, etc.

For example, Native Americans had only three domesticated animals before llamas, turkeys, and dogs. Why only three? Actually, fossil records show huge populations of horses, oxen, and millions of other large mammals in the Americas until about 11, BC.

What happened around 11, BC? You guessed it: man showed up via the Bering Strait. The American horses, oxen and other large mammals, having never experienced a human predator, approached the new arrivals like slobbering puppy dogs, and were consequently turned into steaks. Now this is fascinating enough, but then consider that because the Native Americans didn't have any horses, oxen, pigs, etc. Yes, germs. Because the Native Americans didn't live in close proximity to a plethora of "farm animals" like their counterparts in Eurasia, they lacked the "petri dish" wherein deadly germs could grow and proliferate.

If that doesn't blow your mind, your mind is blowproof. Every other large mammal that remained including moose and bison lacked the qualities that allow for domestication. In all of human history only 14 large mammals have ever been domesticated: sheep, goat, cattle, pigs, horses, camels Arabian and Bactrian , llamas, donkeys, reindeer, water buffalo, yaks, and two minor relatives of cattle in southeast Asia called Bali cattle and mithrans.

Outside of these, no other large mammals have been transformed from wild animals into something useful to humans. Why were Eurasia's horses domesticated and not Africa's zebras? Why were Eurasia's wild boar domesticated and not America's peccaries or Africa's wild pigs? Why were Eurasia's five species of wild cattle aurochs, water buffalo, yaks, bantengs, and gaurs domesticated and not Africa's water buffalo or America's bison?

Why the Asian mouflon sheep the ancestor of our sheep and not the American bighorn sheep? The answer is simple: we tried and it didn't work. Since BC not one new large mammal out of the worldwide candidates has been domesticated, and not for lack of trying. In fact, in the last years, at least six large mammals have been subject to well-organized domestication projects: the eland, elk, moose, musk ox, zebra, and American bison. All six failed.

Guns, Germs and Steel

Diet: Why don't we eat lion burgers? Because raising lions, or any other carnivore, is uneconomical. You need 10, lbs of feed to grow a 1, lb cow. You would likewise need 10, lbs of cow to grow 1, pounds of lion. Growth rate: Why don't we eat rhino burgers? Simple, it takes years for a rhino to reach adult size while it only takes cows a couple. Nasty disposition: Here's where we eliminate zebra burgers, hippo burgers, grizzly burgers and bison burgers.

These animals retain their nasty and dangerous tempers even after several generations of captive breeding. Did you know zebras injure more zookeepers per year than do lions and tigers? Tendency to panic: No deer or gazelle burgers either.

Book Review: Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel

Because they take flight at the first sign of danger and will literally kill themselves running into a fence over and over to escape the threat. Captive breeding problems: Many animals have elaborate breeding rituals that can't happen in captivity.

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Social structure: This may be the most important requirement for domesticates. The best candidates for domestication live in herds, maintain a clear herd hierarchy, and overlap ranges with other herds rather than having exclusive ranges. Here humans just take over the top of the hierarchy. Diamond contends that if there had been any horses left in the Americas, or any of the other 13 candidates for domestication, the Native Americans surely would have domesticated them, and reaped all the attendant benefits.

But alas, their great-great-grandpas had already killed, grilled and digested them all. Diamond's book is a great read. The way I see it, the story of man and the story of all things, for that matter is the story of varied states of disequilibrium moving violently and inexorably toward equilibrium. What was Pizarro's vanquishing of Atahualpa's empire if not an example of such violent re-balancing?

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The beauty of Diamond's book is that it seems to pinpoint, with surprising simplicity, the original source of disequilibrium among men: geography. Skin color had nothing to do with it. Race has always been nothing more than an arbitrary mark to show the geographical birthplace of one's ancestors'. By the way, if you do read this book, take note of the way we humans first discovered agriculture. According to Diamond, it happened at the latrine.

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We'd go out gathering seeds, eating some along the way, and then come back to camp and defecate, all in the same spot. Guess what started growing in that spot?