Guns, Germs, and Steel has been in my queue for several years. I remember seeing it a Barnes and Noble a long time ago and wanting to read it. I can only assume that was a result of the Pulitzer Prize Winner sticker on the cover.
The book is most certainly non-fiction but it isn’t a story. It is a very long research paper. The author states his very clear and concise thesis up front. The book will examine what led certain civilizations to conquer others from a scientific and anthropological standpoint. The author explicitly states that he seeks to disprove generic racist arguments that promote the superiority of euro-centric whites.
The book covers a broad history of man’s evolution focusing specifically on the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmer, the backbone of the author’s thesis. Mr. Diamond discusses climate, flora, and fauna throughout the world and how the presence, or lack thereof, affected the development of civilizations around the world.
There are plenty of criticisms that can be made about Guns, Germs, and Steel. The first is that it may oversimplify the causes of the disparagement. The author makes assertions, like the lack of domesticable large mammals, which seem too simple. They make sense but are similarly worthy of skepticism as a result. The other main criticism is that the book covers subjects outside of the author’s expertise, evolutionary biology not anthropology. Neither criticism holds up under significant scrutiny.
This book only receives three star from me because, while I enjoyed it, reading it was tedious at times. The information was laid out in approachable fashion. It was interesting and educational but it always felt like a research paper.
If you want to learn a lot about the history of civilization, this is the book for you. It is smart and entertaining.