In Guns, Germs, and Steel,  do you agree with how Diamond answered Yali's question?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Guns, Germs, and Steel,

In order to answer this question, we must first think about how Diamond actually answered this question.

Diamond’s basic answer to Yali’s question is that the Europeans came to dominate the world because they were geographically lucky.  They had geographic luck that enabled them to engage in agriculture much earlier than people in other regions of the world.  This enabled them to reach the most complex levels of societal organization earlier than others.  That caused them to have the “guns, germs, and steel” that they needed to have in order to conquer.

I completely agree with Diamond’s answer as far as it goes.  It seems that Diamond has very clearly explained why Eurasia was able to have farming long before other continents.  It seems that he has very clearly shown that farming and the ability to conquer are very closely tied together.  It seems that he has clearly shown that people in other areas, such as Australia, did not fail to build complex societies through any fault of their own. 

To that extent, I agree with Diamond completely.  I am confident in his explanations of the largest sweep of human history.  However, I am less certain as to whether he can explain things like why China or the Muslim world lost the advantages they once held over the West.

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