DIAMOND, J. (1998), Guns, Germs, and Steel: a Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years, Vintage Random House, London.
- Question: Why did history unfold differently on different continents?
- Yali's question (p14):
Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own
Why were Europeans, rather than Africans or Native Americans, the ones to end up with guns, the nastiest germs, and steel?
- Summarising sentence (p25):
- [Comment] At very long-term level yes, but at shorter-term level not true: Once Europeans acquired GGS and colonised the world, history unfolded differently for black African slaves than for 'white' Arabs, partly due to their biological differences (strength, skin colour), which, of course, are in the end due to differences in environment. That is, the book merely answers the question why history unfolded differently for the different continents but has little to say about the respective peoples (notably why Europe instead of China ended up dominant)
Part 1: From Eden to Cajamarca
What's the situation, How do we analyse it, and what can we do with the analysis?
Chapter 1 (p35-52):
Defines the starting point, what is the environmental status of the continents and what are the characteristics of the peoples on them at the end of the last Ice Age, 13,000 years ago?
-Extermination of large wild animals in Australia 40,000 years ago.
-Extermination of most large wild animals in Americas by Clovis hunters 11,000 B.C.
-Genetic diversity highest in Africa
Chapter 2 (p53-66):
Introduces the mode of analysis, by looking at the effects of environmental differences among Pacific Islands on the Ancestral Polynesian people, who colonised them. Argues that these differences (p58 Island climate, Geological type, Marine resources, Area, Terrain fragmentation, Isolation) lead to the colonisers developing types of societies ranging from hunter-gathers (low-population density or size) to proto-empires (high population density or size).
Chapter 3 (67-82):
Analyses the proximate causes of the capture the Inca emperor Atahuallpa in the presence of his 80,000 man strong army by Pizarro and a mere 168 other Spaniards. Sets out to analyse the ultimate causes of the Spanish having horses, nastier germs (killing about 95% of the pre-Columbian natives), literacy (information: model capture after Cortès' with the Aztecs), better political organisation, and better technology (the proximate causes).
Part 2: The rise and spread of food production
-The most important constellation of ultimate causes.
Chapter 4 (85-92):
How the ultimate factor of food production (herding/agriculture) lead to the proximate causes of Atahuallpa's capture.
Problems with food species: Indigestable, poisonous, small nutritious value, tedious to prepare, difficult to gather, or dangerous to hunt. àDomestication animals