Guns, Germs and Steel won the 1997 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. In 1998, it won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, in recognition of its powerful synthesis of many disciplines, and the Royal Society's Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books. The National Geographic Society produced a documentary of the same title based on the book that was broadcast on PBS in July 2005.
In a review of Guns, Germs, and Steel that ultimately commended the book, historian Tom Tomlinson wrote, "Given the magnitude of the task he has set himself, it is inevitable that Professor Diamond uses very broad brush-strokes to fill in his argument."  Another historian, professor J. R. McNeill, was on the whole complimentary, but thought Diamond oversold geography as an explanation for history and underemphasized cultural autonomy. In his last book published in 2000, the anthropologist and geographer James Morris Blaut criticized Guns, Germs, and Steel for reviving the theory of environmental determinism, and described Diamond as an example of a modern Eurocentric historian. Blaut criticizes Diamond's loose use of the terms "Eurasia" and "innovative", which he believes misleads the reader into presuming that Western Europe is responsible for technological inventions that arose in the Middle East and Asia.