Guns, Germs, and Steel

By · 29 June, 2017 · Features

Guns, Germs, and Steel is probably not the most apt name for a book that is, for the most part, about agriculture. Don’t let that turn you away though: Jared Diamond’s ambitious history of human societies is a truly engaging read.

Using geographic, botanical and animal behavioural arguments our Book Club book for June seeks to explain why Europe colonised the rest of the world and not the other way around. Starting from the fact that Europe is wider than it is long, which affects the growth of crops, and moving through to animals and disease, the book covers a lot of human history. So what can we learn from this sociohistorical epic?

Zebras are mean.

That may sound like a joke, and it kind of is, but a large section of the book is predicated on what type of large animals with potential for domestication were found on each continent. Europe got horses which were invaluable as a domesticated animal. Africa definitely drew the short straw with zebras whose tendency to bite and kick people meant they could never be tamed in the same way.

People are amazing.

People from South Asia island hopped (think Moana) across the Indian ocean to colonise Madagascar, over 1000 years ago before Europeans reached the island through Africa. Imagine going all the way across the Indian ocean to Madagascar in a canoe. I for one thing that is pretty incredible.

The book is not law.

As anyone that attended the UN Youth NSW book club can tell you this book is excellent for discussion. Whether your interested in science and want to bemoan all the evidence that needs updating or you are more interested in the socio-political theories that are in the book there is definitely something you’ll want to discuss.

Book Club will be on hiatus for July, which means there a whole extra month to revel in our pick for August – The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. Ever wonder why some countries seem to get stuck? This book is all about the traps that can stop these countries from developing and the lives of the poorest billion people in our world.

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