End of book. Is it still worth reading? Just because you get the basic premise of Natural Selection does not mean you shouldn't read Darwin's classics. I'm to going to compare Jared Diamond to Charles Darwin. This book isn't that good, but the apparent simplicity of the book's premise only appears simple. The argument that Diamond delivers is tight and simple but hides a lot of work. Any joy that might have been found in the knowledge of this audiobook was completely removed by the performance. My husband and I enjoy listening to nonfiction while we take long car rides, and we had a five hour trip to New York State coming up, and nabbed this title.
We barely made it an hour before he asked me to pick something else to play, since the dull monotonous performance was actually making him tired at the wheel. It's unfortunate. The information is interesting, and though the author is perhaps a bit dry and academic in his delivery, it could have been presented much better by someone with a more engaging range of voice.
It took a very long time to struggle our way through this one, in tiny bites, and I often found myself drifting away from it, completely disengaged from the uninspiring performance. The Fates of Human Societies is the subheading of this book and it grabbed me. I've recently listened to histories of several societies and I thought this might be interesting in doing some comparisons.
What I wasn't ready for was a gallop through the history of man from our first bands of hunter gatherers wandering out of Africa to detailed explanations of why Eurasia was by its geography destined to be more successful than either the Americas and Africa. If you had told me I was going to be left gaping by linguistic analysis, natural experiments or the result of reviews by evolutionary biologists I wouldn't have believed you but I am agog as what I've heard and the implications it has meant for all the histories of different societies.
I am still digesting what I've heard and I know I shall be back to listen to parts if not all of it again. This book is highly recommended if you want to know why Eurasia came to dominate the world and to understand early civilisations destinies from their geography and biology. It really is compelling listening. I was defeteated by the text version of this listen despite finding the topic interesting and generally being happy to stick with challenging reads.
I don't know whether it was Diamond's prose style or the relatively slow start but for whatever reason I just couldn't get past the first 50 pages. The audible version though was an entirely different proposition. It's well narrated; I stuck with early sections that did a good job of scene setting but gave me problems in print and by the end I was so fascinated by the combination of detailed research and sweeping vision that I listened to it again.
Can't recommend this too highly for fans of non-fiction.
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I really enjoyed this audiobook, my wife, who studied anthropology did not! As with so many debates, the lack of accessible specialist literature on a subject of widespread interest leads to other specialisms filling the void, from an anthropologists view this happened here. The mashing of the huge historical period and the geographical themes is understandable here, Diamond is a Geographer, and sees life in those terms, much as Acemoglu and Robinson in Why Nations Fail, examine life as economists.
Obviously, real life is more complicated, but by simplifying the discussions and applying a consistent paradigm,I felt I understood more about development than before. Yes, I can see why Survival International don't like some of Diamond's narrative, there is certainly less sympathy for native peoples, but so what? If you download this you'll possibly move on to others of this type.
If anthropologists would suggest something to broaden my views I would be happy to access it, otherwise my reading list includes: Ian Morris, Niall Ferguson, Charles C.
Mann, and David Landes! Jared Diamond approaches World History in a refreshing and entirely original way in this work.
Your audiobook is waiting…
Rather than looking simply at what happened or even why it happened, he goes right back to first principles to examine why the circumstances arose that led to peoples of one part of the World essentially dominating the others. I think the macro view is a little simplistic but it is undeniably compelling and a strong counter-argument to more reductionist arguments of racial superiority or cultural differences. I listen to a lot of history books on Audible and few, if any, have brought to light as many new realisations about the World.
Not so much telling me things I didn't already know but highlighting the importance of facts that I was already aware of. It has to be said that it is not a perfect work and Jared Diamond's ego does get in the way somewhat. He simply can't resist interposing his personal experience and special insights into the narrative rather than simply let the story stand on it's own.
Overall a really interesting and engaging listen but I can see how the writer's style might really grate with some. As a scientist myself I have always like Jarad Diamond as he opens up areas I have an non-professional interests. In this work Diamond deals this the differences between the various levels of development between various groups of peoples. Diamond lays out his evidence and arguments well and does not fall into to the trap of push one reason for our current situation over another.
However, the audio book is let down with poor narration with almost no inflection in his voice, which made it unpleasant and dry to listen to. This is a "magnum opus" in all senses of the phrase, and deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The question at the centre of the book is one asked by a New Guinea tribesman "How did your culture and peoples come to dominate us?
Diamond rightly rejects the 19th Century explanation that white Europeans are innately superior, citing examples of the often greater inventiveness, adaptability and intelligence of "aboriginal" peoples. Dismissed too are notions of superior culture e. Niall Fergason's 6 "killer apps" in his book "Civilisation". Diamond instead looks to geography, and natural history for explanations. This in turn was because the continent of Eurasia has many more animals and plants that could be domesticated, carried more diseases to which we developed immunity and that both of these, along with cultural advances, spread more easily East-West along similar temperate zones, leading to our earlier abandonment of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, in favour of farming, specialisation and technological advancement.
Though the book paints a broad brush history, it delves very specifically into details of the development and clashes among numerous world cultures, and the evidence left to us today in language, technology, lifestyle, diseases and diet. Sometimes, the level of detail he goes into becomes almost overwhelming.
The narration is very clear and concise, but the intonation is sometimes flat, and I found myself drifting off at times. It would have been great if the author had narrated it himself. In summary, this is a major and important work, but a long and sometimes difficult book. It is hard, but well worth the effort, if you, like me, seek to understand how and why we got here. This is considered a classic and a milestone for some reason, and it's not entirely without merit but overall is a very dull read and a wasted opportunity.
Whether or not you agree with the politics of Diamond's argument - that it was the environmental conditions in which early populations of humans found themselves that dictated whether they would go on to become 'advanced modern societies' or remain hunter gatherers I think the argument is fairly coherent and compelling but some have a real problem with it the problem I have with the book is not its argument but its very dull and unengaging articulation of this argument. The book is dull and dry, written without a shred of charisma.
The argument Diamond makes is actually quite simple and could be simply proved in about 20, words, but for some reason Diamond feels the need to give us chapters and chapters of filler, cataloguing every plant domesticated in every setting, and then every animal found naturally and then domesticated in each setting, and then every disease that arose in each setting, and then every population migration that occurred and at what time, and what feels like details of every language ever to involve and how they are all inter-related - when actually one or two examples of each would have been enough to prove the point.
The book therefore reads like a lists of lists in many places - lists of continents, languages, societies, plants, diseases, animals, and other things, all presented and read out without a shred of personality to be found either in the text itself or in the narrator's performance, which is also dull and sounds like a school information video not a popular science narration. To make matters worse, these lists often seem entirely unconnected to the central argument of the book - for example a huge section on the history of plant domestication of what seems like every conceivable plant in every continent is provided without it being clear, until the very end of the chapter, how this links to the argument about the environment with the most favourable conditions leading to the domestication of most plants.
The book finally gets to the simple, and to me it seems, sensible, point that the naturally occurring features indigenous plant and animal species, geography, climate, latitude, idea diffusion, etc of a region were instrumental in determining how quickly the local humans were able to develop agriculture, which then allowed them to go on to dominate in cultural and imperial terms.
But while this seems obviously true for ancient societies, Diamond says very little about the reasons why different parts of the world that did develop agriculture at similar times then went on to develop into 'modern' societies at different rates, or why some were more competitive than others. Why didn't Islamic culture conquer the new world instead of Christian culture? What gave Europe the advantage? He speculates on some of these points but seems content to leave it at that.
The language evolution section is particularly dull, given that it relies on discussing huge numbers of individual languages which are all related to each other, none of which you will have ever heard of before, all of which have strange names, and all of which will be repeated in quick succession and the relationships between them described, without any realisation that the reader, almost certainly having no interest in linguistic nomenclature per se, will not keep up or care about why any of this matters.
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Diamond makes a big thing of how the practice of history could learn from the approach taken in the sciences, but fatally undermines his own argument by writing a science history in a much duller and less engaging way that a good popular historian would have done. Diamond really should have teamed up with a historian and a good, engaging writer, to produce this book as an engaging popular history instead of attempting it alone and writing it like a scientist's PhD thesis.
It is also probably one of the most humourless books I have ever read. It's rare to read a book which really lacks a trace of wit or humour throughout - any sort of wry remarks or hints at the personality of the author - but Diamond manages it, giving no hint of himself and apparently deliberately avoiding anything lighthearted or endearing. Even anecdotes about the typewriter keyboard and the unexpected purposes to which human inventions were put - which have the potential to engage, and build some common ground behind reader and author - are treated in a completely lifeless, factual way when they could have been written to entertain.
Which I suppose is my key criticism of the book. Diamond may be a good scientist but he's not a good popular writer, and while he seems to have a compelling thesis it's crying out to be communicated in a better, more coherent and more engaging way. I - and I think many others - read popular science or history mainly to be informed and to learn, yes, but also crucially to be entertained - and if you're after entertainment, this aint it.
What did you like most about Guns, Germs and Steel? The ambition of this book is immense, crisscrossing the globe, and human societies throughout history and prehistory. It's one of those rare mind expanding books that changes the way you look at the world. What disappointed you about Guns, Germs and Steel? I felt like the author started off by a telling me what he thought I believed that 'westeners' were more intelligent than non westerners and b then telling me how I was wrong.
I didn't actually believe the thing that I felt the author was accusing me of so that was a bad start. The book was extremely repetitive. It was very much, tell them what you are going to tell them x10, tell them x10, tell them what you just told them x There was no need for all the repetition. I got it the 1st, 2nd and 3rd time. Overall some interesting snippets of information within spoiled by a biased writer who writes as if his readrer has the memory retention of a goldfish.
Has Guns, Germs and Steel put you off other books in this genre? How could the performance have been better? Performance was OK. If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Guns, Germs and Steel? Much of the repetition. A tortured defense of pc including such gems as new Guinean tribesman are the most intelligent people on planet earth, all historical judgements by tribal cultures to eschew agriculture were rational and based on local fauna and flora and in the words of those 80s adverts The constant Caucasian bashing quickly becomes tedious and unnecessary to anyone with a cursory understanding of how history can turn on a few rolls of the dice.
Overall the prose is dull and the book unnecessarily long. Like so many of these types of books you suspect that many of the people who eulogise about them have never read them. This book answered so many interesting questions I had never even thought to ask e. Jared Diamond answers these questions in a very clear way and by reference to various different societies around the world.
I found it completely absorbing so much that I have just downloaded his most recent book, Upheaval. Important topic, with some really logical and interesting conclusions; but some concepts were repeated needlessly. It could have been a much shorter book. Boredom lead to an increase in playback speed. Which is sad, because if it was more concise, it would have made a good birthday gift for a racist family member. Book is a bit dated now. Whole thing could be summed up in a page. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the human history of our planet.
Look, if you like history this is your guy.
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There's absolutely nothing wrong with either the story or performance. The pace is good, never dwelling upon any one idea for too long, yet succinctly adding to your comprehension of the books thesis. I felt like I had been taught a intellectual secret. The authors many years of hard work have payed dividends, with what feels like to me, an answer to the question of why particular races succeed over others.
A must read. Very comprehensive and educational insight into human civilisational development around the globe. This is a hard book to review. A friend of mine recommended it to me while I was scrolling through Audible's library trying to find something to spend my credit on, as I was asking him for suggestions of non-fiction stuff to try that was outside my regular wheelhouse. Guns, Germs and Steel is quite an achievement of study.
I probably didn't do Guns, Germs and Steel justice, as I listen to my audiobooks to and from work in the car, and very often I'd find my mind wandering and coming back a minute or two later and realising I hadn't taken anything in, and having to skip back a bit. However, I think that also speaks to the writing - it is read excellently by Doug Ordunio, who does a decent job of making it sound good, but the writing itself is quite dry and dusty.
The handful of times that Diamond injects a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour held my attention much better, but they're unfortunately few and far between. I haven't really said anything about the content, because I don't feel like I'm qualified to - the entire thing could be tripe for all I know. However, as a layman, it was very interesting and made me think about factors that I hadn't considered before in regards to my position as a European-descended inhabitant of Australia, a continent he spends quite a lot of time talking about because of the challenges of the aboriginal Australians in building a society before the colonisation.
I would tentatively recommend Guns, Germs and Steel to most people. The language and examples used are easily understood and consumed, and it tackles some pretty big issues in such a way that isn't intimidating or confusing for a layman. Every human being on this planet should read this book. In fact, there should be a subject in schools teaching this book. Thanks Jared for giving this treasure to us and Thanks Doug for bringing this book the voice.
This is an amazing book, albeit a bit heavy in places but one of such profound insight into the nature of the development of human society and civilization that is certainly a must listen. Unlike Noah Harari's Sapiens with its colorful language and evocative analogies Guns Germs and Steel could be described as a little stodgy in places and in some sense somewhat academic in nature. This does not however distract the brilliant analysis by the author as to why some parts of the world have "developed" in comparison to others.
A truly outstanding classic. Your audiobook is waiting…. By: Jared Diamond. Narrated by: Doug Ordunio. Length: 16 hrs and 20 mins. Categories: History , World. People who bought this also bought Publisher's Summary Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, Guns, Germs and Steel examines the rise of civilization and the issues its development has raised throughout history. What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. Amazon Reviews.
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Sort by:. Most Helpful Most Recent. Nick M. Great book, poor narration This is a great and thought provoking book, just what I've come to appreciate and expect from Jared Diamond. Doug St. Compelling pre-history and emergent history This is a fascinating and foundational work that takes a topic for me shrouded in obscurity how and why did civilization emerge in the pattern it did around the globe , and provides a vivid, detailed, and substantially convincing explanation.
A story all should know, not all can endure What a wealth of information! Jeremy Shepparton, Australia Informing, Interesting, and Boring all in one His point of view is compelling, and gives definite weight to the view that all men are created equal, and 'Whites' for example aren't 'better' than anyone else, but that they had a better deck of cards than other peoples and cultures at a time when it mattered. Enter pincode. Usually delivered in days? Diamond Jared. AmazingBuy 3. Only for plus members Get exciting benefits.
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Jared Diamond puts the case that geography and biogeography, not race, moulded the contrasting fates of Europeans, Asians, Native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, and aboriginal Australians. An ambitious synthesis of history, biology, ecology and linguistics, Guns, Germs and Steel remains a ground-breaking and humane work of popular science. Frequently Bought Together. Guns, Germs and Steel. A Short History of Nearly Everything. The Selfish Gene. Add 3 Items to Cart. Rate Product. The author takes us through a journey of times and describes the fates of different human societies in a scientific, factful and yet easy to understand manner.
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A must read book for anyone interested in history of human societies, cultural imbalances or anthropology. I would also recommend this book to someone who is interested in knowing the origin and difference of economies in various parts of the world. Arnab Ghosh Certified Buyer Sep, In the end he even makes a case to consider History as a Social "Science". The book has in store some surprises, if you need to know where bananas came from, or when did people start Khalil Sawant Certified Buyer Dec, Though repetitive and may seem boring. Still it is revolutionary.
Guns, Germs, and Steel - by Jared Diamond
Sapiens-a brief history of mankind and this 'little' piece completely change ones attitude towards history. The content is heavy but Informative and coherent. It will test your acumen and patience. Advisable for voracious readers but not for neophytes. Abhimanyu Singh Certified Buyer Dec, Jigmet Katpa Certified Buyer , Jammu 8 months ago. This book is a classic in the field of Evolutionary History-Geography and how Geography shapes the histories of different areas.
Though Jared Diamond completely overlooks Indian civilization, it is a very good read to understand how different factors play in for a civilization to flourish and perish. Manas Katakam Nov, One of the rare books where the author keeps asking the question why till you arrive at a point where you cannot ask that question anymore - truly scientific approach.
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