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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesJared M. Diamond
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal
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Jared Diamond is one of America's most celebrated scholars. A professor of Geography and Physiology at the University of California, he is equally renowned for his work in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology, and for his ground-breaking studies of the birds of Papua New Guinea.
Yali’s Question: “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”
Prologue: Yali’s Question
Why do you think Diamond chooses to begin his book with a question?
Why do you think Yali’s question is relevant for us today?
Diamond proposes his answer to Yali’s question: Do you find this
persuasive so far? If so, why? If not, what kind of evidence would he
have to supply to persuade you?
Diamond challenges some common explanations for differences among
human societies. Are you familiar with these explanations? Do you
know people who share them?
Diamond says: “An observer transported back in time to 11.000 B.C. could not have predicted on which continent human societies would develop most quickly, but could have made a strong case for any of the continents.”
Why does Diamond begin his story at this point in human
history; why not sooner or later?
How does the fact that the Maori defeated the Moriori (a natural experiment of history”) support Diamond’s argument?
Pizarro defeated the Incan emperor Atahuallpa, just like the Maori
defeated the Moriori in the previous chapter.
Why does Diamond use historical anecdotes to support his argument at this point in the book, rather than some other kind of evidence, like statistics?
Can you think of a time when a less materially advanced society
defeated a more materially advanced society?
If you can, doesn’t that cast doubt on Diamond’s claim?