Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Ultimate Conclusions"

Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel was an interesting read to me because he focuses on societies that were not successful in order to understand how the powerful ones were able to come about. He is also continuously challenging the reader by stating that we should try to come to the conclusion of ultimate explanations. However, when in comes to these conclusions, I don’t think Diamond is able to provide insightful answers. For example, in the food power chapter Diamond explains how hunter-gatherers were less advantaged than those that domesticated animals and plants. I thought I would find out some innovative reason as to why they came about but his “ultimate explanations” were reasons that were very much straightforward. I mean it’s pretty obvious that with more food, you can feed more people so there will be denser populations. On top of that I would assume he would provide some kind of evidence to these conclusions but he doesn’t. Furthermore, in the next chapter, “History’s Haves and Have-Nots” Diamond asks so many thought-provoking questions as to why food production began at different times in different regions. And ultimately his conclusion is a list of regions and its primary domesticates.  I think many times throughout the book, he is able to pump the reader up of curiosity and then when it comes to the reasoning, it just doesn’t get interesting anymore because of the bland answers.


  1. I also found myself frustrate by the lack of concrete answers in Guns, Germs and Steel. One thing I found especially annoying was the chapter about writing; i thought it was by far the most fascinating chapter in the book, but I wanted to know more. I'm not entirely sure what I would have likes to see Diamond include more of, but I do think his points might be more effectively made if he were to follow through with them a bit more.

  2. I agree that Guns, Germs and Steel is a pretty dry book, and at first it seemed to me that Diamond was discussing more about history and the ways that different societies progressed. But then after class discussions I realized that he was trying to help us understand the way that nature impacted all of these societies. I think Diamond wants the reader to realize that the nature of the place that societies were built upon largely determined the amount of success they had. It determined whether they thrived and had good crops or good hunting seasons or produced food products that were useful to other parts of the world at the time. I think however that Diamond has intentions to make insightful conclusions but that maybe he doesn't execute these intentions as well as a reader would like, on a level that we would fully grasp on a first-read of the book.