Key takeaways from "Germs, Guns and Steel"  #Books

14 Jun 2018

Here are the key takeaways from the book called "Germs, Guns and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He sets himself on a mission to answer how some civilizations and cultures (namely white Europeans) came to exterminate, eradicate and otherwise dominate other peoples. 1. Domestic animals give an unfair advantage to those peoples that have them, as they provide food, cloth, plough traction, protection, assault vehicle and other benefits. Many peoples in the Americas and Australia ended up without domesticable animals because the large mammals and birds who could have been domesticated were exterminated precisely at the time when the humankind entered these new worlds (in the case of the Americas about 13,000 B.C.). The argument as to why Eurasian large mammals were not exterminated in the same manner is that they got to evolve for many thousands of years alongside with humans, as we were gradually evolving our hunting skills and tools, and they learned to be alarmed by humans' presence. The large mammals of the new worlds did not develop such fear of humans, so when the sophisticated hunters arrived, they quickly killed off all the large mammals, which eventually could have become a valuable source of advantage when the wild animals domestication eventually started. 2. The axes of the continents (Africa and Americas: North to South, Eurasia: West to East) play an important role in propagation of domesticated cultures - crops and, to a lesser extent, animals. This also played a decisive role in sharing (or isolating) the domesticated species. 3. Food production ability (growing crops and farming) was the factor that allowed the farmers to spawn the new types of occupations such as rulers, priests, bureaucrats and professional warriors, which lead to more sophisticated social organizations. These new social formations and specializations allowed the farmer societies to secure a decisive advantage over hunter-gatherers, as in the forager societies all of the commune members were occupied with obtaining food. Bonus: Christopher Columbus was pretty much an entrepreneur. Before he got sponsored by the King and Queen of Spain to find the westbound water path to India, he got turned down by the monarchs and rulers of Italy, Portugal, England, and several city-kingdoms (read VCs) :)