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  • Writer's pictureArjun Patel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Part 4

I found Part 4 of Guns, Germs, and Steel incredibly engaging and enjoyable to read. As I mentioned last time, I've started reading Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the evolution of humanity and the world around us.


In Part Four, Diamond presents a series of case studies that support his theory. Firstly, he demonstrates that the New Guineans could develop agriculture, sophisticated technology, and political centralization while the neighboring aborigines of Australia could not due to geographic distances and factors outlined in Part Two. Secondly, he argues that China was able to become the world's first large, centralized state because of environmental reasons. The temperate climate and homogeneous geography enabled accessible communication and political unification between the Chinese states. Thirdly, the New Guineans were more successful than their neighbors, the peoples of Java and Borneo, in resisting European colonization and massacre in the 18th and 19th centuries, mainly because their agricultural practices made them resistant to malaria, preventing colonists from staying too long on their island. Fourthly, agriculture arose in certain regions in the New World but did not diffuse to the neighboring areas due to geographic barriers like deserts and mountains. Finally, Diamond studies the history of Africa and argues that the Bantu peoples of North Africa were more militarily successful than their sub-Saharan neighbors because they developed some limited forms of agriculture. However, in the sub-Saharan environment, people didn't have any way of developing agriculture, so their societies never had the time or organization to create complex technologies.

Diamond posits that the dissimilarities among various people and societies can be primarily attributed to geographic distinctions between different world regions. Certain areas of the world have fertile soil and a mild climate, making agriculture an advantageous use of time and resources for humans. Agricultural societies then gained significant advantages over non-agricultural societies because increased free time allowed people to develop technologies and centralized political structures, and the proximity to animals gave people immunity to deadly diseases. Therefore, some societies became dominant over others.


In Part 4, Diamond discussed and wrote about some exciting topics, and I'm glad to have shared them with you all! In a few weeks, I'll provide another update on my non-profit organization, AnthroMinds, which has some new initiatives I'm eager to discuss!


- AnthroManTalks 

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