By Jared Diamond, 1997, 480 pages, amazon
Or The Fates of Human Societies
This is a very insightful book, which attempts to explain why certain societies seemed to have advantages over others when the two met – especially, why it were the Europeans who conquered the Americas and not vice versa.
In order to answer this question, the author goes deep into the history and thinks about where did the advantages (such as guns, germs, writing…) come from and why they did not originate somewhere else. “The striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environments.” Even though his ideas are just theories that cannot be tested directly, he also offers archaeological evidence to support his reasoning.
I found this book to be fascinating reading offering a lot of material to ponder about. The only drawback is that it is somewhat repetitive – as if the author thought he needs to constantly remind you about the fundamenal ideas. Other than that, highly recommended and I am looking forward to reading Diamond’s other book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which I got for Christmas.