Guns, Germs, and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Jared Diamond debunk the theory that some humans are inferior to others?

    The book presents an alternative theory to scientific racism to explain why the West has become wealthier than other parts of the world. In explaining the disparity by using the environment as a lens, Diamond shows that, despite humans being biologically similar around the world, living in different environments can create drastically different outcomes. By showing an alternative theory, that is supported by evidence, he can lay to rest claims that those living in poorer areas are less intelligent or hardworking, which didn't have much evidence behind them.

  2. 2

    Did the West have a greater part to play in the poverty of other parts of the world than is portrayed in Guns, Germs and Steel?

    In some ways, Jared Diamond ignores the role that Western nations played in areas of Africa and Asia. Imperialism, colonialism and racism are downplayed as causes of poverty in those areas. While Diamond may be correct in his theory that geography and environment were the driving factors for the West's success, the West did steal resources and push down progress in Africa and Asia. Diamond doesn't address this fully. A section of the book dedicated to how European colonization of Africa, for example, caused the drain of natural resources and destruction of culture would be a more complete version of why Africa, a continent rich in resources and manpower, struggles to compete on the world stage.

  3. 3

    How does Jared Diamond keep the reader's attention throughout the work?

    While Guns, Germs, and Steel is a non-fiction book, it is engaging, and appeals to a wide audience outside of scientists and academics. Diamond achieves this by framing his book through the anecdote he relays in the beginning: he remembers when a New Guinean politician named Yali asked him why his people were so relatively unadvanced, and pursues the answer to this question throughout the rest of the text. The book is written clearly and conversationally. Diamond also opens each chapter with a new anecdote or colorful example, which helps to appeal to a diverse set of readers. For example, one chapter references Tolstoy's novel, Anna Karenina, in explaining the principle of animal domestication. Examples like this allow Diamond to engage even readers who are more used to fiction. All of this allows the layman to enjoy, appreciate and learn from the book.

  4. 4

    What does the theory presented in Guns, Germs and Steel mean for the future of society?

    Diamond's work implies that the differences between nations are a result of environment. Currently, the technological revolution of computers is not distributed equally. Neither is access to the internet. Distribution of resources continues to pose a problem across the world, as different nations struggle to compete with one another on the world stage. We can expect that the effects of environmental differences will linger, and continue to pose problems into the future. However, knowing that disparities are largely caused by the environment can help us to address these issues by giving more resources to those areas that were naturally disadvantaged by their environments.

  5. 5

    What is behind the title Guns, Germs and Steel?

    The title reflects the theory presented in the book. By presenting his theory with a snappy and short title that describes it well, Diamond can appeal to a general audience. In fact, even without reading the book, the title can tell the prospective reader what to expect. Rather than relying on racial inferiority to explain wealth inequality between regions, Diamond shows that agriculture, disease, and geography allowing for steel production and advanced weaponry enabled Western nations to destroy rival non-Western nations with ease. Summarizing this to "Guns, Germs and Steel" not only captures a wider audience, but makes the purpose of the book clear.