What question is Jared Diamond trying to answer in Guns, Germs, and Steel?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond begins with a personal anecdote. Diamond is an American scientist with degrees in anthropology and biology who is very interested in how geography and ecology interact with human culture. When on a research trip to Papua New Guinea to study birds, he becomes acquainted with Yali, an important local figure who had served as a soldier and politician and was a follower of the traditional "cargo cults," a religion which is grounded in a notion that a return to traditional moral and cultural behavior will result in a quasi-miraculous appearance of "cargo" or material wealth. Yali asked Diamond:

Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo. . . but we black people had little cargo of our own?

The book is an attempt to answer this question. Diamond argues that the people he has met in his travels are just as intelligent and hardworking as Europeans and that the differences in technology and prosperity are due to geological and ecological ultimate...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 552 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team