“Guns, Germs And Steel”

I’ve just started watching the television series “Guns, Germs And Steel”. In fact, this series was first broadcast in 2005 and it is based on a book published in 1998. The presenter of the series and the author of the book is American academic Jared Diamond.
Jarrod seeks to explain the whole history of civilisation and how human inequality was created in a fascinating thesis summarised on this Wikipedia page.
Why did civilisation begin in the so-called fertile crescent of what we now call the Middle East? The Wikipedia page puts it this way:

“Diamond highlights two major environmental advantages of Eurasia over other areas in which farming apparently developed independently. The various Eurasian inventors of farming, and especially those in “South West Asia” (roughly Mesopotamia and Turkey) had by far the best natural endowment of crops and of domesticable animals in the size range from goats or dogs upwards – the superiority in domesticable animals was the more extreme, as other areas had at most two and often none. Eurasia’s other big advantage is that its mainly East-West axis provides a huge area with similar latitudes and therefore climates.”

What about the title of the series and the book “Guns, Germs And Steel”? Wikipedia explains:

“The book’s title is a reference to the means by which European nations conquered populations of other areas and maintained their dominance, often despite being vastly out-numbered – superior weapons provided immediate military superiority (guns), European diseases weakened the local populations and thus made it easier to maintain control over them (germs), and centralized governmental systems promoted nationalism and powerful military organizations (steel). Hence the book attempts to explain, mainly by geographical factors, why Europeans had such superior military technology and why diseases to which Europeans were immune devastated conquered populations.”

Jarrod’s thesis has been criticised but his book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the television series is really interesting.


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