That Eurasia is very wide means that the same plants could be planted across a huge expanse, since it is easier for crops to spread horizontally in the same latitudes then to spread across different latitudes from North to South.
His piece ties in strongly with many of the works and themes we have been discussing in class, which I will attempt to address in the course of the review.
“Guns, Germs, and Steel” begins with a research question, termed “Yali’s Question”.
And others after him have actually taken similar approaches.
Ian Morris also took a geographically based approach.
The primary thesis about GGS was that civilisation developed first in Eurasia because of the fortunes in that area.
People there had a wider variety of crops and animals to domesticate compared to other parts of the world. Also, the Sahara had become a desert then, and posed a formidable barrier to immigration after.That Christopher Columbus could go to different royal courts for his expedition to America underlies this fact.Zheng He could not go to a competing court for the same kinds of exploratory expeditions.A pertinent point raised by Roy Rosenzweig and John Randolph was that of the problem of incomplete knowledge, and the limitations this posed when trying to investigate the past.Just like the “to be burned” note on top of the Bakunin papers mentioned in these readings, and the deleted Bert is Evil page, a lot of information has been lost since 11,000BC.Diamond is especially interested in ecological collapses, and how these were brought about by human activity.He shows several examples of how ecological collapse is not a given, and that several human societies were able to make better decisions about their ecological resources.Although Diamond does leave some space for “human inventiveness”, as he argues that “all human societies contain inventive people”, he then goes on to state that “it’s just that some environments provide more starting materials, and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions, than do other environments.” This leads me to a second critique.Throughout the book, Diamond fails to answer why people chose to use their technology and resources in the way that they did.I will go on raise some of the debates surrounding the “scientific approach” to history further on.The main premise of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is that the differences in the experiences of human history can be explained by climate and geography.