Book of the Week: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies’ histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.
― Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Each week, the AUA Newsroom spotlights faculty recommendations for books of interest.

This week we feature Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies,” recommended by AUA President Bruce Boghosian.

The book examines why people of Eurasian origin have historically dominated the world in wealth and power while weaker peoples have been decimated, subjugated, or even exterminated by those same Eurasian societies.

In his comparison, Diamond looks at the factors influencing the development of the colonial powers as well as those shaping the Sub-Saharan Africans, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians and New Guineans. Diamond argues that the differences in power, wealth, and technology between these societies stems from geographic and environmental influences rather than genetic factors.

Diamond’s book has expanded the general understanding of human societies, and in particular, how the modern world came to be, while disproving traditional racially based theories of human and societal development.

“Guns, Germs and Steel” is a Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is available on the Kindle, iPad and Android tablets and can be checked out at the AGBU Papazian Library.