Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich
Wealth of information, but keep your guard up
am 5. Juli 1999
The book takes the point of view that geography determines the success of societies and cultures for ALL time. It is a good read for those who like to know more about human history, especially the early part (before 500 BC). However, the book's basic premise, that culture is of little account, is hard for this reader to accept. Some of the explanations are essentially 'just so' stories. Also, others may not be able too, but I can ignore Diamond's occasional bow to political correctness (e.g. Columbus "discovered" America; many pages on the evil Spanish conquistadores) and use the text to learn about Polynesia, Africa, and the Americas. Certainly, in the early stages of human history, geography plays a big role. It also dictates where people will face too many difficulties (due to limited resources or extreme temperatures) such that they won't succeed. But his overall theme is hard to swallow as an understanding of how some groups succeed, while others don't. In fact, he contradicts himself several times. Native North Americans were dispersed, so they could not get together effectively. Yet China is viewed as one big lump, which leads to an overly strong central government that stifles development. Well, which is it? (Or must it be 'just right' -- shades of Toynbee's challenge&response.) The last chapter is absolutely the worst, because he is explaining differences between civilizations after (approx.) the year 1500. Yet by now everybody knows about guns and steel! His approach is to look at a map, and explain success or failure by whatever he happens to comes up with. Mountains that hinder travel? Or not enough to keep out the barbarian hordes? You get the idea.
Still... it has much material that will please anyone who likes to pick up an encylopedia and read about this or that place or time in human history. And it is always good to keep in mind that geography has some effect. But it's not quite as deterministic as Diamond would have you believe.