I recently finished reading the Pulitzer winning book Guns, Germs and Steel (GGS) by Jared Diamond. Like the latest book of the author – read my review of Collapse – I believe this is an absolute must read.
This is a magisterial lesson on history and how Mankind evolved during 13,000 years from small groups of hunter gatherers into the current complex societies with agriculture and industry.
I highly recommend GGS to any person wondering why European civilizations conquered the world and not the opposite or each person interested in social sciences as a whole.
During 450 pages, the author brilliantly exposes the causes of the Eurasian predominance in our world. Indeed one can wonder why Europeans societies conquered the world and not the reverse.
Among the factors that contributed one can note the exceptional conditions the Fertile Crescent had and the west-east axis of the Eurasian continent which enable biodiversity to prosper.
One striking element of this book is how the environment contributed to the success of Eurasian civilizations. If the climate had been worse or if biodiversity had been less flourishing we wouldn’t be living as we do nowadays.
Mankind first appeared in Africa, and spread from there to Europe and Asia. From the latter it slowly spread to the many islands in the Pacific Ocean and crossed the Bering Strait 12,000 years BC.
Civilization first appeared in the Fertile Crescent – now a mostly desert region – and spread to the whole Eurasian continent. Both climate and geography slowed down the expansion to the Americas and Oceania. This is one of the explanations.
I am amazed at how the author explains with ease the birth of agriculture – the founding stone of our civilizations – to writing – which was enabled by the former – and then to all the other developments.
Conclusion : This book is due to make on me a long lasting impression. If you loved Collapse, you will appreciate this one too.
Disponible en Français sous le titre De l’inégalité parmi les sociétés, chez Gallimard. (environ 11€)