Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13000 years is a documentary film produced by the National Geographic Society. It is based on the book Guns, Germs and Steel: The fate of human societies by Jared Diamond, professor of Geography and Physiology at the University of California Los Angeles. In this film, Jared Diamond tries to explain the dominance of Eurasian civilisations including North Africa.
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He attempts to find out why Eurasian civilisations have conquered others with regard to affluence and power. Diamond uses the concept of Geographical determinism to come up with the solution to differences in power. He argues out that Geographical advantage influenced the Eurasian societies and subsequently, their culture (Amazon.com).
While Jared Diamond’s work is celebrated for downplaying racism in trying to explain Eurasian dominance, it also faces tough criticism from academic circles. Critics of Guns, Germs and Steel consider his work incoherent and the author as being guided by the fallacy of false dichotomy. Watching the film, one feels that the writer gets it wrong in the concept of causation and correlation.
Geographical advantage is correlated to advancement in civilisation. However, geographical advantage is not necessarily the cause of development of civilisation. Diamond assumes that geographical endowment is the reason for dominance, an assumption that leads to a wrong conclusion.
In claiming that geographical determinism is the major reason for Eurasian Dominance, Diamond forgets the approach to history from a perspective of autonomous cultural development. This causes him to face major criticism from the historian William H. McNeil. First and foremost McNeil claimed that man, as the most powerful species, has changed the surrounding environment.
This has happened continuously since the invention of fire, and other hand held tools (Amazon.com). I agree with McNeil’s argument. Despite the fact that the environmental constraints brought with them some limitations, human beings always found ways to overcome them.
On another level, Diamond’s comparatives fall short in its qualitative and quantitative characteristics. He does not consider the populations of the geographical regions he is talking of. Many are qualitatively similar but quantitatively very different.
He says this is the reason why regions like Australia were left behind in the wave of civilisation. He also claims this is the reason diseases among the lesser populations were not able to evolve, resulting in lack of resistance to diseases hence high mortality rate.
The book “Guns, gems, and steel” is a commendable book for a reader who has an interest in understanding how the world is so unequal. It offers a gripping exposure in an epic detective story, whereby Jared diamond tries to answer the biggest question in the history of the world.
He gives extraordinary, yet so simple answers by explaining the destiny to guns, germs and steel mostly depends on geography and their accessibility. Diamonds fascinating theories about life comes out clearly through weaving anthropology and science together with historical re-enactment.
The book moves beyond life theories and brings the idea into the present day. In his book, diamond tries to explain what has shaped civilization for the last number of centuries.
He argued out that power balance, unequal distribution of wealth and other resources are the main reasons, according to him; it is merely a matter of survival for the fittest, and the luckiest. Many scholars did not agree with Diamonds conclusions; however, his work in this book is quite provocative. It is a classical book with excellent work (Diamond)
Amazon.com. Guns, Germs, and Steel (2005). 2005. Web.
Guns, Germs, & Steel. Dir. Jared Diamond, 2005. DVD