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Guns, Germs, and Steel Summary

Strengths of Authors Argument

On their face, the authors main arguments seem to make sense. The way different societies developed depended largely on the natural resources available to them. Greater resources led to larger and more complex societies that both permitted and promoted subsequent technological development and advancement. By the time Western societies encountered and dominated tropical societies, the means through which they did so were result of earlier (natural) causes rather than the result of inherent differences in ability.

Weakness of Authors Argument

Frankly, it is difficult to critically assess the writing and argument of a writer who is profoundly more qualified in his area of professional expertise than this reviewer. Nevertheless, his characterization of tropical native hunter-gatherers as being more intelligent (because of natural selection) than Western people seems tenuous and speculative, unlike the rest of his arguments that are based on objective evidence and reasonable inferences.

Contribution to World History

On balance, the work provides a valuable and unique approach to understanding the historical record of encounters between Western societies and many foreign peoples living in much simpler societies at the time. In general, it seems to be a perfect fit within the modern trend of recognizing the degree to which the most famous European explorers have been romanticized and idealized for their accomplishments without appropriate acknowledgment of their shortcomings. The European explorers often brutalized and exterminated many indigenous populations without remorse, and substantially based on the justification of natural “superiority.” This work contributes to the historical record by explaining precisely why their technological and societal advancement in comparison to their victims were functions of the fortuitous circumstance of their location and not of any inherent “superiority.”.

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