Essay about History of the World in 6 Glasses Book Review

Submitted By Tueanh13
Words: 1468
Pages: 6

AP World History
July 30, 2014

Guns, Germs, and Steel Book Review

Jared Diamond’s widely acclaimed book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, “attempts to provide a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years” (Diamond, 9). Delving deeper into the preface and prologue, we learn that Diamond endeavors not only to educate us on the history of the world, but explore the age-old question: why did history itself turn out the way it did? Why did Eurasia develop so much faster than places such as the Americas or sub-Saharan Africa? The many factors to this question are expounded in detail by Diamond. Diamond’s thesis, which contradicts most traditional historians, believes dominant societies had an advantage purely because of environmental factors, rather than because people of different races or places are less intelligent than others: “History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among people themselves.” (Diamond, 25). Take, for example, Diamond’s visit to New Guinea to study bird evolution, mentioned in his prologue. While he acknowledges that the people of New Guinea seem less advanced then our modern day society, he believes that they are actually more intelligent than us. Diamond argues that we view them as primitive because most New Guineans would struggle to perform the same tasks we do in our society, without realizing that we would have difficulty attempting tasks in the jungle that most New Guineans have no problem with. He also believes that because most children in New Guinea don’t have the same entertainment as the ones in more advanced societies, like iPhones and television, they spend more time playing, learning, and developing, consequently giving them “mental ability… genetically superior to Westerners”. In my opinion, I find this highly debatable. How does one measure “intelligence” or “mental ability”? Merriam Webster defines “intelligence” as “the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations”. Science’s definition of “intelligence” is arguably “the ability to adapt and survive.” Using the mainstream definition, one has to bring up the controversy between whether smart phones are a help or a hindrance to children; ultimately I believe that they can help kids learn skills with technology that’s unknown to older generations. We’ve been given new tools, and we’re obviously adapting rather quickly. The science definition, however, proves undisputedly that Westerners are more “intelligent”. According to the CIA World Factbook, Americans have an average life span almost 20 years longer than New Guineans thanks to modern medicine and lifestyle choices. Westerners survive longer, and have the capability to invent and understand new technology; I believe they are both scientifically and denotatively more intelligent, and that Jared Diamond is skewing his opinion in order to prove a point in his book. Regardless of my disagreement, Diamond uses his opinion to conclude that dominance of certain countries throughout the history of the world was purely due to environmental factors. The two main factors Diamond focuses on include the ease which plants and animals are domesticated, and the shape and axis of different continents. Diamond first justifies his argument by stating that certain environments have plants and animals that are capable of being domesticated better than others. This had a major effect, giving countries that had livestock and crops huge advantages. One such advantage, and one of the more glaringly obvious ones, is the fact that once people could farm, they no longer had to roam around as hunter-gatherers. This created a domino effect, allowing them to build governments, cities, and develop more as a whole. It made way for new technology in order to farm more efficiently, and allowed people to deviate from searching for food to fighting and conquering other…