05 September 2007

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

So it's September. We've moved and the cool weather is supposed to arrive tonight. The laptop seems to be about ready to crash though, so I could disappear again, but for now I have a long list of books to write about. Today's is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

This is the first time I've read this book even though I was familiar with his topic since I've been hearing about this book for years. And it is an excellent and interesting book.

I would have preferred some sort of footnotes or endnotes. Diamond did leave a list of sources for each chapter, but sometimes there were specific things I wanted to know the source on that wouldn't have come from that general list. But this is a general peeve of my anyway in popular non-fiction. I don't think that most readers truly are frightened away by footnotes, and even if you think they are, there are other referencing methods that don't require those scary little numbers. Use them, please? A book like this really should have had been better referenced.

It also was rather repetitive, especially at the beginning. It assumes that the reader has absolutely no knowledge of almost anything, so Diamond spends a long, long time explaining many things. But as with the notes, this is very popular fiction, so maybe I'm looking for things that this book wasn't trying to do.

My only real complaint is that Diamond absolutely doesn't leave any room for human variables in his thesis. I agreed with him long before I read this book that environment has had a much greater impact on the evolution of human society, but Diamond really goes to great lengths to discount any sort of human mistakes or brilliancy in any sort of decline or rise in any human civilization. That is going rather too far.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed reading this book and do recommend it. Especially to those folks who insist that one race is superior to another.

1 comment:

  1. what you say is true--but i have to add that I LOVE this book. I thought he explained the transmission of writing very well.