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The main thesis of Guns, Germs, and Steel
Venkatachalam, in his review, says that the reason behind why some people possess an advantage over others has to do with ultimate causes. In his review, Venkatachalam writes about Diamond’s level ground, where it all started, and which after some time became unequal due to some ultimate causes, such as rapid domestication of plants and animals in some areas, and the presence of geographical obstacles that hindered the spread of emerging innovations to some continents (Diamond 1998).
A Summary of Venkatachalam’s main thesis
Venkatachalam’s review describes Diamond’s research, which began at the end of the ice age when man started to engage in hunting and gathering. At this stage, none of the continents had an unfair advantage. It is from this equal ground, Venkatachalam writes of how the author launches a discussion on how the unequal distribution of wealth and power on earth came to be (Venkatachalam, 2001). According to him, one of the factors that led to inequality was the rise and spread of food production. Food security led to an upsurge in population growth, a factor, which resulted in the emergence of social stratification and the rise of the political elite. Unfortunately, some continents were left behind while others flourished.
Venkatachalam writes about how Diamond links to what he calls ultimate causes and what other researchers have called proximate causes, which are Guns, Germs, and Steel. In the review, Venkatachalam writes about how Diamond explores the way diseases, writing, social organization, and metal technology helped in the determination of the disparate distribution of power and wealth.
The weaknesses and strengths of Venkatachalam’s book review
Venkatachalam’s review has both its strengths and also weaknesses. For instance, the reviewer gives a glowing account of not only Jared Diamond’s book but also of other authors who have talked about Diamond’s work. The author incorporates the views of other authors to make his work stronger and better. This shows that Venkatachalam has a thorough knowledge of not just Diamond’s book, but also of the issues raised by other authors on Diamond’s work. It is well known that a good researcher needs to write even what other authors say about the topic at hand.
From the review, we see Venkatachalam’s reaction to the book. The author reveals his feelings and opinions towards the book through his various writings. We can deduce that Venkatachalam loved the book as he recommended it to everyone. For a review to be convincing, it must illuminate the reviewer’s opinion and reactions.
On the other hand, the review is too long and in some instances too emotive. Book reviews need not be too long as this may result in one giving too much information about a book. This may also make readers lose interest in acquiring the book in the first place.
Riches (1986) emphasizes the positive impact a reviewer may have on a reader if they pose questions meant to provoke critical thinking. This, according to Riches, also helps capture the mind of the reader later on. Venkatachalam does not ask the readers such thought-provoking questions, which can be considered as a weakness of his review.
In conclusion, Venkatachalam’s review of Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years’ is a literary success by all standards. It piques a reader about the issues raised leaving one with a desire to know more.
Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, Germs, and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. London: Vintage.
Riches, A. (1986.) Reviews and Reviewing: a Guide. Phoenix: Oryx Press.
Venkatachalam, S. (2001). Resonance: A review of Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. Bangalore: Indian Institute of Science.