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Friday, May 25, 2012

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond



The first of a set - "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse"

Published by  W. W. Norton & Company (April 1, 1999)

Most readers of those two books read Guns, Germs and Steel before Collapse in the order in which they were published. I, however, read them in reverse order of publication. Many were critical of Collapse because it was too close to Guns, Germs and Steel in theme and topics covered. I suppose that I am a bit disappointed as well, but not too much.

Yes, they cover some of the same material, but really they are the twin sides of the same coin - the rise of societies and the fall of societies. With a little bit of editing, Jared Diamond could have merged these two books into one and created one monster-sized tome (800 plus pages) on the rise and fall of societies around the world.

Diamond's theses are cogent, coherent and clear. Really, it is a wonderful volume for the student of world history who wishes to take some steps into the deeper end of the scholarship pool. Despite the easy writing style (Personally, I've never had much respect for some serious scholars who seem to delight in making their texts as dense and difficult as possible), these are lofty thoughts that are often painstakingly laid out.

On occasion, Mr. Diamond's descriptions were a little too detailed (especially concerning the domestication of grains) and I found myself skimming several pages. But, those moments were rare and normally I found it to be interesting in the least and from time to time I had an "Aha!" moment while reading.

If you enjoy this one, be sure to read Collapse.

I give this one 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on October 3, 2006.

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