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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (Englisch) Bibliothekseinband – 8. Oktober 2008

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Bibliothekseinband, 8. Oktober 2008
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-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Audio CD.
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Amazon.de

Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist's answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye--and his heart--belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Audio CD.

Pressestimmen

An ambitious, highly important book. -- James Shreeve

The scope and explanatory power of this book are astounding.

An ambitious, highly important book.--James Shreeve

Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope . . . one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years. --Colin Renfrew

Guns, Germs and Steel lays a foundation for understanding human history, which makes it fascinating in its own right. Because it brilliantly describes how chance advantages can lead to early success in a highly competitive environment, it also offers useful lessons for the business world and for people interested in why technologies succeed. --Bill Gates

A fascinating and extremely important book. That its insights seem so fresh, its facts so novel and arresting, is evidence of how little Americans and, I suspect, most well-educated citizens of the Western world know of the most important forces of human history. --David Brown

Artful, informative, and delightful.... There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject, and that is what Jared Diamond has done. --William H. McNeil

A book of remarkable scope, a history of the world in less than 500 pages which succeeds admirably, where so many others have failed, in analyzing some of the basic workings of culture process.... One of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years. --Colin Renfrew

The scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding.

Fascinating and extremely important... [A] synopsis doesn't do credit to the immense subtlety of this book. --David Brown

This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour though 13,000 years of history on all the continents a short history of everything about everybody.... By at last providing a convincing explanation for the differing developments of human societies on different occasions, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history.... After reading the first two pages, you won't be able to put it down. --Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University

An ambitious, highly important book. --James Shreeve"

No scientist brings more experience from the laboratory and field, none thinks more deeply about social issues or addresses them with greater clarity, than Jared Diamond as illustrated by Guns, Germs, and Steel. In this remarkably readable book he shows how history and biology can enrich one another to produce a deeper understanding of the human condition. --Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University"

Serious, groundbreaking biological studies of human history only seem to come along once every generation or so. . . . Now [Guns, Germs, and Steel] must be added to their select number. . . . Diamond meshes technological mastery with historical sweep, anecdotal delight with broad conceptual vision, and command of sources with creative leaps. No finer work of its kind has been published this year, or for many past. --Martin Sieff"

Artful, informative, and delightful.... There is nothing like a radically new angle of vision for bringing out unsuspected dimensions of a subject, and that is what Jared Diamond has done.--William H. McNeil

A book of remarkable scope, a history of the world in less than 500 pages which succeeds admirably, where so many others have failed, in analyzing some of the basic workings of culture process.... One of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years.--Colin Renfrew

This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour though 13,000 years of history on all the continents a short history of everything about everybody.... By at last providing a convincing explanation for the differing developments of human societies on different occasions, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history.... After reading the first two pages, you won't be able to put it down.--Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University"

The scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding.

[Diamond] is broadly erudite, writes in a style that pleasantly expresses scientific concepts in vernacular American English, and deals almost exclusively in questions that should interest everyone concerned about how humanity has developed. . . . [He] has done us all a great favor by supplying a rock-solid alternative to the racist answer. . . . A wonderfully interesting book.--Alfred W. Crosby

An epochal work. Diamond has written a summary of human history that can be accounted, for the time being, as Darwinian in its authority.--Thomas M. Disch

Fascinating and extremely important... [A] synopsis doesn't do credit to the immense subtlety of this book.--David Brown -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Audio CD.

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Jared Diamond is a thoroughgoing geographical determinist. His book highlights both the strengths and the weaknesses of this approach.

Diamond's major topic is the Neolithic Revolution. His intention is to demonstrate that environmental conditions were not equally suitable to the development of agriculture on different continents. Eurasia, he contends, was the most appropriate place. It had the largest number of domesticable plants and animals, an east-west axis favoring the diffusion of inventions, offered good possibilities for inter-continental communication, and was the largest and most populous continent. So the Eurasians were first in developing agriculture, gaining thus a headstart in history. Agriculture led to rising populations and created a dynamic that prompted the evolution of states, writing and a sophisticated technology (guns and steel). These social and technological advantages, plus immunity to the most dangerous infectious diseases (germs), allowed Eurasians to easily subdue the natives of the Americas, Australia and Southeast Asia.

On the whole this argument, which takes up the first 410 pages of the book, is convincing. Diamond is also right to insist on adopting a long time-frame. As early as 8000 years ago Eurasians had a substantial edge over their rivals on other continents, making it unlikely for those peoples and civilizations to catch up.

Had Diamond stopped writing at this point, he would have published a good work.

However, he was not content to treat only the Neolithic Revolution, but wanted to cover all major turns in world history. Hence the last 15 (!) pages of the book are devoted to a completely different subject. Having explained the rise of Eurasia, Diamond now wants to explain the rise of the West.
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Diamond takes on an extremely complicated topic that spans essentially all of human history and boils it down to some very basic premises. For example, he argues that Eurasia (i.e. Europe and Asia) enjoyed the advantage of the lion's share of the most desirable and domesticatable grains and large mammals. This advantage led to earlier agriculture, which led to denser populations, which led to more specialization, which led to better technology and organization, which led to societies better equipped to wage war and conquer their neighbors. Other reviewers, however, take Diamond to task. But is this premise really so darn controversial? The idea that the Fertile Crescent had a nice variety of native large-seeded, protein rich, perennial grains is not new. Heck, I learned as much in my History of Agriculture class as an undergrad (10 years ago). If you believe that Europe was somehow destined to rule the world because of some innate cultural and/or genetic superiority, this book is not for you. If you want wonderful insight into the biogeography of different regions of the earth, and how these differences contributed to differences in development, check out this book. I simply could not put it down.
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Prof. Diamond has produced a fluently-written account of a popular theory -- that contemporary differences in human cultures and societies are the result solely of starting conditions with respect to geography and environment. However, the book holds numerous flaws.
There can be no doubt that Prof. Diamond is the master of a vast amount of data, biological and historical, and he marshals those data to good effect in support of his theories. However, there are many troubling omissions and contradictions contained in the book, which indicate that either there are important holes in Prof. Diamond's knowledge, or that he has been somewhat too selective in his use of data. For example, in discussing the native cereals available to various local groups for purposes of cultivation, he consistently speaks as if corn were the only grain available in Mesoamerica for domestication, and, indeed, that it was the only grain so domesticated. In fact, amaranth was also available, and domesticated. It further lacks many of the deficiencies which Diamond asserts made corn an imperfect domesticate. His failure to deal with this contradictory fact calls his more general arguments into question.
Diamond also ignores facts which are uncomfortable or unexplainable under the terms of his theory. For example, he points out that certain grasses native to the Eastern U.S. produce "dream" grains -- the example he offers is sumpweed. Yet the reason he offers that it was not domesticated is weak; it causes hay-fever, and has an objectionable smell. As Diamond should be aware, the question of whether a smell is objectionable is often culturally determined, as are many aesthetic notions.
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Das Buch bietet eine hervorragende Analyse der Gründe, wieso europäische Länder es fertigbrachten, selbst Hochkulturen der Neuen Welt und anderer Länder unter ihre Herrschaft zu bringen.
Die Methoden der Analyse sind streng wissenschaftlich, berücksichtigen Bereiche wie geographische Lage, Klimazonen, zähmbare Tiere, natürliche Resourcen, Bevölkerungsdichte Die Argumente sind klar, verständlich vorgebracht und weit einleuchtender als die sozialdarwinistischen Argumente, die in der bisherigen Literatur zu diesem Thema mehr oder weniger verhohlen angeführt wurden
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