Shout out to my husband Arne for his first book review. Enjoy.
This is a fascinating read that takes on the subject of how the modern world came to be dominated by the West. Diamond makes the case that this is not due to any inherent superiority of Western culture or peoples, but was enabled by a combination of random environmental factors present in Eurasia and not in other parts of the world.
These simple factors included easily domesticated plants and animals, and the geography that allowed for easier communication of new ideas and technologies. These elements allowed for more dense populations, the formation of states, and the development of superior technologies like written language and boats capable of crossing oceans.
Another far less intentional key that Diamond explains in great detail is the evolution of epidemic infectious diseases in the West. This came as a result of the close quarters resulting from those more dense populations. Epidemic disease created an huge unplanned advantage when the Old World began to meet and clash with the New World. As brutal and well-armed as the armies of the Old World were, those diseases killed off far more of the enemy than any weapon.
There are a lot of details and a fair amount of repetitive arguments in this book; it’s a long and fairly dry read. Can you open your mind to the concept that the modern dominance of the West wasn’t achieved through higher intelligence and moral superiority? If you can, you will find interesting this book’s premise that the West’s legacy of a better food supply and inherited tolerance to devastating diseases brought us to where we are today. Diamond’s work may forever change your thinking about how the modern world came to be.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Read last week’s review of Burmese Days.