Guns, Germs, and Steel Questions and Answers

Jared Diamond

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting Guns, Germs, and Steel questions.

Why is luck important?

The idea that cultural success comes from geographic chance, rather than anything inherent in race or biology, is a significant concept for many reasons. It shows that all our modern constructs of "First World" and "Third World" countries come from absolute happenstance. Luck, or the lack of it, has made our world into what it is today. 

How is Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel an Anti-Racism Argument?

The heart of Diamond's research comes from the evidence that settler colonialism and it's subsequent horrors (for instance, the Trans-Atlantic slavery of African peoples or the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas) are the result of geographic luck. This means that Eurasian colonizers did not gain systemic power, which they still hold today, through greatness of skill or mind. Pure chance created the circumstances of the way racism works. 

What is a summary of the epilogue?

The epilogue of Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond is entitled “The Future of Human History as a Science.” This title gives you a clue as to Diamond’s thinking at the end of the book, his interpretation of what the future of human history should entail. His thought is that history should be examined more scientifically. The epilogue explains that there are shortcomings to his thinking in the it is nearly impossible to create experiments in society and geography that can be replicated because there are too many variables including human nature, environment, and the length of time that would be necessary to carry out such experiments.

Jared Diamond espouses the idea of geological determinism which theorizes that Europeans became dominate because they had better raw materials and more favorable environmental conditions that those in the Fertile Crescent and China. There were also power struggles, especially in China. Whereas the Europeans were open to world exploration, the Chinese were facing civil unrest as they battled the Eunuchs. Diamond suggests that the power struggles be looked at only after the geographical situations are examined thus making human history into a science.