Before the beginning of the Early Modern Era, Europeans were threatened of invasions from the Ottomans and Mongols, the Crusades, the Black Death, and many forms of internal conflict such as the Hundred Years’ War between England and France and the Inquisition. With this in mind, it may be difficult to imagine why the Europeans have become so powerful. However, the Europeans have eventually been able to dominate the world because of three desires: finding an all water route to Asia, accumulating wealth, and converting people to become Christians.
Looking back over the millennium now ending, one question in particular stands out: how did the inhabitants of Western Europe, a backwater in the year 1000AD, manage to gain economic and military dominance over much of the globe? Not so long ago, the answers to this question seemed obvious: Europeans were racially superior, and besides, God wanted them to win. As historians have shed race-driven and providential views of human history, new explanations have had to be formulated. Some of these new explanations are surprising; most of them conflict at some point with each other. Imperialism has been linked to multiple theories of the actual origins of the imperialistic
In the book Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond who is a biophysics scientist and a psychologist, set out on a journey to find out the reason behind great achievements and conquest of the Europeans. What is the secret of success of Europeans? His hypothesis was very original and at first looked very simple, it was guns, germs and steel. The journey of Diamond took over 30 years and helped him answer the main questions of human history and what is it that separates humans today from "rich and poor" and from "haves and have not’s." To do this he had to go back when everyone was equal.
During the period of 1492 to 1750, Europe experienced drastic changes during their Age of Discovery. As a result of contact and colonization, Western Europe’s economy, political, social, and military systems changed, but also maintained certain aspects that enabled them to build strong civilizations. Such changes include increased (international) trade routes, more centralized governments such as monarchies, decreased unifying influence of the Catholic Church, and increased interest in military conquest and expansion.
How did Europeans conquer so much of the globe, laying waste to the indigenous civilizations and helping themselves to the natural resources of the lands they settled? Was it because the Europeans were superior to the indigenous people? Or was something far larger behind the European success at colonization? These are questions that Dr. Jared Diamond, a professor at UCLA, sought to answer in his book “Guns, Germs and Steel”, a fascinating look at why Europeans succeeded in expanding across multiple continents, and why the native populations fared so badly in the face of European exploration.
The book, Germs, Guns, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, shows how different cultures followed different courses of history. The book also looks at how Europe became the superpower it is and how it evolved faster than other cultures at the time. This is because some environments provide more favorable conditions for new societies than other environments. Diamond says there are four main reasons the Europeans rose to power and were able to expand across the globe. The first reason is because the continent of Europe has different animals and plants ready for domestication meaning more food which lead to a larger population. The second reason is there were more technology and innovation from all the domestication of
The argument begins with a brief summarization of Diamond’s theory. The main point being that the distribution of wealth or success to countries or continents is decided geographically. And within the geographic category is the importance of farming and domestication of animals. Diamond says Eurasia’s advancement happened because of their
Conquest is an extremely violent thought, to subjugate and assume control of a group of people and their land with military force. It’s hard to imagine a large following, much less countries, that support imposing brute force onto strangers. Given that conquest is violent, why did Europeans conquer the Americas as they did? The Europeans followed the belief of Christianity, which forbids such massacres and hate, how could they have conquered and killed? Many, like Jared Diamond, promote the idea that it was pure geographical luck which granted Europe easier diffusion of knowledge; metal weapons and political organization which were more advanced. However, this idea becomes problematic because it assumes that no matter the inhabitants of the more fortunate land, conquest would have happened because of predetermined facts like geography. With this argument, one could say Natives would have conquered Europeans or that they would have been able to defend from their conquest if they had the same or better geographical luck. I believe that geographic luck is not enough to enable the conquest of the Americas. I want to argue that the major reasons behind the European conquest of the Americas were largely in their motivation to gain riches to boost their economy and the justification of their conquest by disguising themselves as saviors to the Native Americans.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, attempts to explain why history progressed differently for people from various geographical regions. Diamond introduces his book by pointing out that history followed different courses for different people because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among people themselves. Through his convincing explanation for how civilizations were created and evolved throughout the course of history, he argues that environmental factors gave some societies advantages over others, allowing them to conquer the disadvantaged societies. While I agree with Diamond’s argument that the orientation of continental axis, availability of potential
Jared Diamond starts off his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel with stating his attempt to answer Yali’s question, “Why is it that you white people developed much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own.” Diamond elaborates and brings to simpler terms how Yali’s question relates to many questions on the origins of humans, but more specifically, how Eurasians, the white people mentioned by Yali, came to successfully dominate the rest of the world. In the prologue, Diamond mainly drives his point of the “effects of continental environments on history over the past 13,000 years” as to what he believes is the main root to why Eurasians came to dominate so successfully. Alongside of continental environments,
In the historical book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” by Jared Diamond, Diamond attempts to provide an understanding to the inequality in modern times. He attempted to provide this understanding by stepping 13,000 years back and figuring out why each continent had a different history from one another. Diamond first got inspired to discover the reasons for this inequality in New Guinea, where he was studying bird evolution. In the prologue, he explained how it was one simple question from his friend Yali, a local politician of New Guinea, that aroused his curiosity and pushed him to write this book. While on a walk with his friend, Diamond was asked, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black
Chapter 1: Up to the Starting Line – In this chapter Jared Diamond attempts to answer Yali’s question by explaining how and where some of the first human settlements were located and where the earliest signs of evolution are. Diamond explains how many settlements had a clear advantage over others due to where they were located. He then shows the advantage by stating “… the earliest human fossil in Europe, the earliest evidence of domesticated corn in Mexico, or the earliest evidence anywhere…” This shows how the advantages played out. Diamond then goes on to explain how certain civilizations needed to adapt differently to survive. Diamonds last point describes how many of the civilizations were colonized and how certain colonies developed much
Guns and steel helped the Europeans fight in an easier way. The guns were lighter and more easy to carry around. They were also easier to aim. Also, steel could be shaped in many different ways to form spears or swords. The Europeans spread deadly germs like smallpox and measles to people who did not have the antibodies to fight them off. This wiped out most of the population of those people. Lastly, natural resources provided important materials. An animal like a horse was a scary large animal who could easily fright many people who are not used to seeing horses. A horse also provided transportation that was quicker than walking. Other animals provided fur, and food which was also very helpful. In order to fight with swords you needed them to have the perfect point and shape. Natural resources like coal and trees made this possible by providing heat to shape the metal. In conclusion, by using great battle tactics like the Europeans did, it is possible to conquer from
I first read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel in the Fall 2003 based on a recommendation from a friend. Many chapters of the book are truly fascinating, but I had criticisms of the book back then and hold even more now. Chief among these is the preponderance of analysis devoted to Papua New Guinea, as opposed to, say, an explanation of the greatly disparate levels of wealth and development among Eurasian nations. I will therefore attempt to confine this review on the "meat and potatoes" of his book: the dramatic Spanish conquest of the Incas; the impact of continental geography on food production; and finally, the origins of the Eurasian development of guns, germs, and steel. In terms of structure, I will first summarize the