In Guns, Germs, and Steel, how does Jared Diamond explain European world dominance?  

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Broadly speaking, Diamond argues that European nations became global powers because they had geographical advantages that enabled them to develop certain aspects of civilization (literally, guns, germs, and steel) that in turn enabled them to dominate other peoples. Settled agricultural societies develop technology, complex governmental systems, and higher population densities more quickly than others. European (or, more accurately, Eurasian) peoples developed agriculture much earlier than people on other landmasses because of a variety of factors including:

  • more domesticable plants and animals live in Eurasia
  • because Eurasia is oriented along an east-west axis, there is more land suitable for intensive agricultural development
  • there are fewer natural barriers (i.e. climate zones) inhibiting cultural diffusion

The important thing is that these advantages were related to accidents of geography, not any inherent intellectual or cultural superiority on the part of Europeans. 

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Guns, Germs, and Steel

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