In his earlier book,
Guns Germs and Steel,
Jared Diamond convincingly argued that geographical and environmental
factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food
production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed
writing, technology, government, and organized religionas well as nasty germs
and potent weapons of warwhich allowed them to venture far afield to conquer and
decimate preliterate cultures.
Diamond takes a look at the darker side of the coin - the societies that didn't make it, barely made it, or are destined, as Diamond sees
it, for failure. Much of the book focuses on a few of today's environmental
hotspots - and the findings are pretty depressing - despite having all the
technological advances and knowledge of our modern culture, it...
Beyond the Book
"I've set myself the modest task of trying to explain the broad pattern
of human history, on all the continents, for the last 13,000 years. Why did
history take such different evolutionary courses for peoples of different
continents? This problem has fascinated me for a long time, but it's now ripe
for a new synthesis because of recent advances in many fields seemingly remote
from history, including molecular biology, plant and animal genetics and
biogeography, archaeology, and linguistics....."
- Jared Diamond
Read the full text of Diamond's talk to
The Edge Foundation
- an interesting looking organization that 'seeks to promote inquiry into and
discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as
well as to...