Guns, Germs, And Steel
- What is Yali’s question to Jared Diamond?
- What are other ways to ask Yali’s question?
- Why would some people object to discussing Yali’s question?
- What have been some answers to Yali’s question?
- How does Diamond summarize his book in one sentence?
- What is the Great Leap Forward?
- What happened in Australia/New Guinea and the Americas when people began to live there? What were the major consequences?
- Could a time traveler who went back to 11,000 BC have predicted which of the five continents (Eurasia, Africa, Australia, the Americas) would have come out on top? In other words, who had the head start?
- What is the natural experiment of history and what is its purpose?
- Why did Pizarro capture Atahuallpa?
- How did Atahuallpa come to be at Cajamarca?
- How did Pizarro come to be at Cajamarca? Why didn’t Atahuallpa instead try to conquer Spain?
- Why did Atahuallpa walk into the trap?
1. What are the ultimate factors? What are the proximate factors?
2. According to Diamond, how did a change in food production lead to each of the following: (a) more people, (b) shortened birth intervals, (c) Specialists such as kings and bureaucrats, (d) wars of conquests, (e) germs.
- Who are history’s haves and have-nots?
- What is radiocarbon dating and what are some of the problems associated with it?
- Examine Figure 5.1 and 5.2. Who had the earliest date of food production? Who had the latest? Why are some sites questioned?
- What are founder crops and why are they important?
- What are some of the misconceptions that Diamond challenges about the origins of food production?
- What were the five factors that led hunter-gatherers to choose the domestication of plants and animals over hunting and gathering?
- Define plant domestication.
- Where were the first agricultural research labs?
- Name the five characters ancient people used to unconsciously disperse plants and set them on the road to domestication.
- By when were all of today’s leading crops being cultivated somewhere in the world?
- Name the blockbuster crops that Diamond identifies.
- What three advantages did the Fertile Crescent have over earlier sites for the domestication of crops? What advantages did it have over other Mediterranean Zones?
- What is Diamond’s thesis concerning Chapter 8? Explain it.
- What is the Anna Karenina principle?
- What are the Major and Minor 9? Which is the only one confined to the Americas? Why is this significant?
- Diamond asks if there were cultural obstacles to domestication not shared with Eurasian peoples that prevented people of Africa and Australia (despite the enormous diversity in animals) from domesticating large animals. What is Diamond’s one word answer? What five types of evidence does he prove to back up his answer?
- Name the six groups of reasons that Diamond lists for failed domestication.
- What was it about the Americas and Africa that made the spread of food production more difficult than in Eurasia?
- Why was the spread of crops from the Fertile Crescent so rapid?
- What have been the major killers throughout recent history? Where did they evolve from?
- Why did the rise of agriculture launch the evolution of crowd diseases? (Hint: farming cities, world trade routes)
- Discuss the importance of lethal microbes in human history using Cortez and the Aztecs as an example.
- Why did no lethal crowd epidemics arise in the Americas?
- What are the three basic strategies underlying writing systems?
- What is the difference between “blueprint copying” and “idea diffusion”? Give an example for each.
- What 3 steps distinguish an alphabet from other systems of writing?
- Why did writing arise in and spread to some societies, but not to many others?
- What is the meaning of “Necessity is the mother of invention”? Diamond counters that argument by adding “invention is often the mother of necessity;” what does he mean?
- What are Diamond’s two main conclusions regarding inventions and modern technologies?
- What are three factors that are considered when trying to persuade a society to adopt a new invention?
- Why weren’t guns accepted in Japan?
- What were the two significant jumps that Diamonds mentions in the development of technology?
- How did the onset of food production, barriers to diffusion, and human population size lead to differences in the development of technology?
- What are the four categories that are used in the classification of societies?
- What is a Kleptocracy? And what are the four solutions they have used to remain in power?
- What three important benefits does an institutionalized religion bring centralized societies?
- What are the four reasons why states triumph over simpler entities?
- Name three theories to explain how states form (Hint: Aristotle, Rousseau, Water)? What is Diamond’s theory?
- What is amalgamation?
- Why did Australians not develop metal tools, writing, and politically complex societies? Is race and culture an answer?
- Why did Europeans colonize New Guineans and Australians and not vice-versa?
- What point is Diamond trying to make by talking about the once diverse range of languages in China?
- What geographic factors contributed to the early cultural and political unification of China?
- What is significance of the Austronesian expansion?
- Make a chart in which you compare and contrast Eurasia and the Americas in the following categories:
a. Food Production (Animal and Plant)
d. Political Organization
- What non-inventions could also be factors in Eurasia’s conquest of the Americas? Could these “non-inventions” be explained to Diamond?
- What was the first documented Eurasian attempt to colonize the Americas? Why did it fail? When was the second attempt and why did it succeed?
- What is so unique about the island of Madagascar?
- What big shock to Eurocentric believers does Diamond make regarding Afroasiatic language?
- So, how does Diamond ultimately answer the question of how Africa became “black”?
- List the four sets of differences that Diamond uses to finally answer Yali’s question.
- Why didn’t Chinese ships proceed around Africa’s southern cape westward and colonize Europe? Why didn’t Chinese ships cross the Pacific to colonize the America’s west coast?
- Why did Europe succeed where China failed?
- What is your final opinion of Diamond’s argument about Guns, Germs and Steel being the key factors in deciding the fates of human societies?