Guns, Germs and Steel: Book Review

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I’m no fan of history. In fact, it is one of the topics i never had any interest through out my entire student period. However, I did score good marks in history, all due to my wonderful memory back then. Then, what gets me to review this book, which is the history of man kind since last 13,000 years? There has to be a solid reason why my hands went on this one.  When I once read an interview of Mr. Jayprakash Narayan, this was the book he was currently reading.  I made up my mind to read this one, almost instantly. When I went to Bangalore to join my current company, I went to Reliance store, and made all the sales man attend to me to retrieve this book. That was 1 and half year ago.

After bringing the book home, I tried to read. But, the first few pages was enough to kill my enthusiasm. Dry and history. I buried it deep inside my book shelf where I cannot even catch its glimpse. And head off to sydney. After my current assignment, I came back to Hyderabad with a kindle. I patiently read Eli Pariser’s book on Personalization. And sighed heavily. 

Next, I wanted to read heaps of unread books on my book shelf. This book came back to my hands. But this time, I was determined to complete it. 401 pages and 1 month. The longest I have read any book. Given my record timings of reading 400 pages in a single night, I can safely say this is the slowest i have ever read any book.

This book is a very easy read, and you will never read dictionary during its entire read.  Part-2 of the book which describes the advent of food production and its spread is described in various parts of the book as it is “the” mother reason which creates all the inevitable causes of economic growth or slowdown in various parts of the world.

Enormous amounts of food leads to surplus and storage. Food production comes by plant and animal domestication. Which in turn, depends on how many species you have to experiment and how suitable is your climatic condition. This alone determines why Eurasia had a head start than the other continents.

From food comes germs. Which means, from cattle. Civilizations immune to germs wiped off the innocent ones just by coming in contact. Food production lead to states and political infrastructure. And writing, east-west axis, kleptocracy,inventions – everything contribute to who wipes out who in the course of modern history.

Fourth part is the most interesting part which describes how each continent is occupied by certain kind of people. Time and again, Jared stresses that, it is the environment and availability of domesticable plants and animals that gave people head start and not their innate intelligence. This is like a slap on the face of so called racists who believe that whites are superior in intelligence than other parts of the world.

I felt the book a bit repetitive. Not that it’s Jared’s fault but because that’s what happened through out history at various places and at various times. I also felt a bit sad for the innumerable civilizations and their history wiped out because of the modern civilization. Last, if i would have seen some more information about India, i would have been most happiest.

All in all, this book is a fantastic read for history lovers. For non history lovers like me, read it and you will open your brain to a new and fantastic genre. Afterall, isn’t it good to know why we are the way we are?

I do not rate this, as we can only cherish our history and not rate it.

Have a good day and keep rocking!!

 

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