Monday, August 22, 2011

Diamond: Guilty

Diamond is not innocent. He has proven time and again that guns, germs, and steel have had an impact in the world due to the world's geography. The way society functions now is a small window to how Diamond explains how society started functioning in the past: the use of domesticated animals, weaponry, and "settling down."

Guns, germs, and steel is all weaponry that we use today and even back to the fall of the Aztecs. What I would like to talk about more specifically is germs. As Diamond explains, "the mere winners of past wars were not always the armies with the best generals and weapons, but were often merely those bearing the nastiest germs to transmit to their enemies." (197) This could be shown through the fall of the Aztec Empire in which a small army of Spaniards defeated the Aztec army of 80,000. Before the great battle that determined the fate of the Aztecs, the Spaniards arrived with their foreign diseases to the Aztec Empire.

Now a days, we use domesticated animals such as the ones in the chart in page 160. Even in modern days, the list of animals in page 160 is still being used today as domesticated animals. Diamond mentions that "5 species became widespread and important around the world." (pg. 159) The use of these animals is important because they impacted how we feed ourselves. For example, the cattle and cows. The use of these animals was to use them to gather milk and food back around the world. Even in the modern day, they are still used for these uses.

Settling down is something that we, humans, have learned to do. It was not possible at first because of the climate changes which would mean that plants would change in every season. There is also the fact that animals choose to migrate and that would mean that humans would also have to keep on moving for food. The Fertile Crescent made "settling down" possible and foreshadows civilization happening in the future. Diamond explains that the Crescent had several advantages over all other terrain that made "settling down" possible. Diamond explains that there were several advantages that made this possible: "western Eurasia has by far the World's largest zone of Mediterranean climate," and, "western Eurasia's experience the greatest climatic variation from season to season and year to year." (138) This is just two of the five advantages the Crescent has what made people settle down in that area for periods of time. This allowed humans to settle in the area and change the nature of plants to have better traits and nutritional values through cross pollination. Which is what modern day farmers also do, they cross pollinate their best crops to have the best traits for growing and harvesting.

Furthermore, what such evidence show that this is not all possible. What right do we have to have to say that geography did impact history? These are all possibilities and the evidence I presented, domestication, weaponry, etc. is proof enough to place Diamond in a guilty verdict.


  1. The man is guilty! This guy all throughout the book talks about how geography determines people's societies.
    You seem to bring up the point of germs. Well, where did those germs come from? Animals that not only gave the people meat but also manure, milk, and muscle power. Where did these animals come from? The Fertile Crescent. If it wasn't for Eurasia's spot in the world then it porbably wouldn't have become the great power that it was all throughout history. Diamond states this idea throughout his book and it's why he is guilty.

  2. I'm sorry but I'm going to have to agree with Alan, Diamond is clearly guilty. There might be some parts of the book where it seems like he doesn't believe that geography had anything to do with it but it is what his whole book was about. He even concludes the book saying, "Rather,it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography-- in particular, to continents' different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species." (401) What more evidence do you want. He says it himself that geography had everything to do with the plants and animals that evolved and where they evolved which made Eurasia a dominate influence.

  3. Whoops, what was I thinking. Sorry guys. I placed a non-guilty title. I meant "Guilty." (edit)