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No. I'm pretty sure it was about why and how European civilizations were able to conquer technology and the world, and specifically why many of the developments critical to the rise of European supremacy are not found in other societies. Yes, the judgments made in the book tend to be more fact-based and objective, e.g., a gun is more effective than a spear.

It is not a screed extolling the virtues of European civilization, nor a litany of the failings of other people. Sorry if that's how you understood my brief.

Gotta love HN-contrarianism. Oh have you also heard of Jared Diamond and would now like that knowledge recognized by pedantically contradicting me?

EDIT: actually let me update this. It is about sociocultural evolution. However if I had said "he wrote a book about sociocultural evolution," nobody would have understood the primary emphasis of his work. That book is specifically and primarily about identifying the key developments in Europe which allowed that civilization to rise in power. He has spent many years living among primitive societies around the world to explore his hypotheses. As much as possible, concepts like "primitive" and "advanced" are objective qualifiers and not value judgments.

When I say it that way, people understand what it's about and want to read the book.




In my opinion, the book is about 1) How geographical location and natural factors (accidental agriculture etc.) resulted in some part of the humanity accumulate certain knowledge that helped accelerate them over others 2) Advancement of certain civilization is not a necessary indication they are better, smarter, more hard working, but an indication of accumulated knowledge resulting from #1 over a long period of time 3) #2 culminated in Europeans dominating the world over the better part of last 500 years


I've read the book and feel your brief is more accurate, but less useful. The shorter one is close enough and many more people will read and grok a short one.


> When I say it that way, people understand what it's about and want to read the book.

Exactly. All pedants do is push people to hedge, equivocate, and employ dense jargon to throw them off the scent, and where's the help to the rest of us in that?


>hedge, equivocate, and employ dense jargon

Irony?


Having a vocabulary that includes the word "equivocate" is distinct from using jargon (specific to a technical field, e.g. chemistry)


Come on - when used with hedge and employ, it's dense jargon. And now you're being pedantic.


Its not jargon, he gave you the definition.


Haven't read Guns, Germs and Steel myself, but "why and how European civilizations were able to conquer technology and the world, and specifically why many of the developments critical to the rise of European supremacy are not found in other societies" sounds like a description of "Civilisation" by Niall Ferguson.

http://amzn.com/0143122061

(Niall Ferguson is pretty outspoken politically too, e.g. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/a-full-f...

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100177487/has-n...)


Ferguson is someone whose contemporary political writings have really pissed me off, but his longer-view historical works (I've read The Ascent of Money but not yet Civilisation) are fairly insightful.


Yeah I've read The Ascent of Money too, it was great. You'll enjoy Civilisation.

Although after learning of his political views(I don't live in the US), I couldn't help but wonder how much it influenced his views in Civilisation. It comes off as a bit overly biased in favour of Europeans (read: the white man) when seen in this new light. For example, he tries to argue that church attendance being down is a sign that European influence/culture is declining.


It's been a while since I read it, but it think it would be more about why one "tribe" developed guns and the other didn't. (Minor nitpicking by someone who also heard of Jared Diamond).


I'm in the middle of the book right now, the author goes to great pains to point out that there is no value judgment being passed on what is better, who is more advanced (in the moral, judgmental sense), or who is right.

But at the end of the day, it is a study of how some parts of the world - particularly Europe - came to technologically, and subsequently politically/economically dominate everyone else. I don't think this is an unfair thing to say, and it implies no Euro- or Amero-centrism.


I didn't disagree with that. I just wanted to point out that his reasoning is much more subtle than just "they had guns and the others only spears". That is exactly the point of the book, because the usual explanation people come up with is "they were too stupid to invent guns". The book explains how intelligence had nothing to do with it.


Yes, I think I could have placed more emphasis on the fact that his primary hypothesis is that the conditions sufficient for technological advancement were present in Europe and the Middle East. But absolutely not that there were innate deficiencies in the people who did not benefit from those conditions. He's showing that most of history has been the result of a geographical lottery.

Jared Diamond is a very sensitive and empathetic man, and that really comes through if you watch the TV series by the same name. His work is not at all promoting Euro-centric supremacy as a race or culture, merely explaining a set of historical circumstances.




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