Summary of Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, & Steel"

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Throughout history, different regional groups of peoples have developed different technologies at different speeds from one another. Historians have long sought answers as to what social and environmental factors could lead to such a disparate rate of advancement. The most prominent example of this phenomenon is Eurasia's development of advanced technology and political systems thousands of years before much of the world. This higher level of organization laid the groundwork for Europe's global domination and subjugation of 'lesser' cultures. The most obvious explanation for this European omnipotence is their development of steel tools, advanced firearms, and higher exposure and consequential resistance to disease. Yali questions what factors led to these conditions throughout history. At the conclusion of this chapter, Diamond states that "History followed different courses for different peoples because of difference among people's environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves (25)."

Eurasia happened to have met many of the prerequisites for civilization, and consequently was able to develop complex social systems and technologies prior to much of the world.


Historians estimate that the initial emergence of human life took place in Africa roughly seven million years ago. However, the first fully modern humans, with the capacity to manufacture tools, proper houses, and sewn clothing, materialized only about 50-40 thousand years ago. This supposed Great Leap

Forward in brain capacity and material development occurred primarily in Africa, but other studies indicate its possible presence in other areas, like China and Australia. Whatever the case, this period in human development saw great social and technological growth, and facilitated human migration on a scale that was previously impossible. The migration of humans to previously animal-inhabited areas including New Zealand, Madagascar and Mauritius caused the animals...