Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Review: Guns, Germs and Steel

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a Full Moon

The rise of civilisation explained.

I finished Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond this weekend. What an amazing book!
When I started this, someone from a mail list I’m on said that it should be required reading for anyone interested in creating a world. I heartily agree. In a short 425 pages, Mr. Diamond shows us how mankind stopped being nothing more than roving bands of “primative” hunter-gatherers and grew into complicated societies. He also shows us how some cultures advanced more quickly than others. Along the way, he explains how history works. What drives massive migration? What allows someone to invent? Why would we need to develop writing and what advantage does it give over people who can’t?
All those questions, and more, are answered in a very logical, easy-to-understand way that was a pleasure to read. In fact, it was a challenge to read during the holidays because each page is so densely packed with relavent information that I felt I needed to devote my entire attention to the page. I’m sure there were important ideas that I missed, so I’ll eventually re-read this one, and I say that about very few books.

As a writer, I found numerous ideas for how a culture might develop in this book. And, along with those ideas, I found a lot of motivations for created people, as well. At many times in history, life has been an adventure, no matter who you were or what you wanted life to be. Mr. Diamond highlights several of those times in Guns, Germs and Steel. For instance, imagine what it must have been like to be some of the first people to colonize New Guinea or Australia using only primative stone and bone tools. Now, imagine what it might have been like with a few differences, like steel. Start writing about those imaginings and, viola, you’re off and running.

No matter how you slice it, Guns, Germs and Steel is a great book that I’d reccomend to almost anyone with an interest in ancient history.

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