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Jared Diamond's Paper

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Submitted By christinej0115
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According to Jared Diamond, Eurasian people dominate the world now because of geography. Europe and the Middle East had good soil, plenty of easily domesticated animals and plants, and a main axis running east-west, instead of north-south – meaning that crops, livestock and tools could spread easily, without confronting big changes in climate or day length. The world’s first farming societies emerged, leading to bigger settlements— meaning that people did not need to travel to find food. Instead, they began to live in settled communities, and grew crops and/or raised animals on nearby land. They built stronger, more permanent homes and surrounded their settlements with walls to protect themselves; one of the largest settlements in the Middle East was called Catal Huyuk which became wealthy (because of a glassy rock made from volcanos) from its farming and trading which meant the needs for markets, the need for protection and the concentration of political power.
Meanwhile, humans living among farm animals developed immunity to the diseases they carried. By the time they encountered other societies, their military power, metal tools and, above all, their deadly germs gave them the decisive advantage. But Diamond is not really talking about axes; mostly he is making a rather subtle argument about the climatic advantages that (in his view) mid-latitude regions have over tropical regions.
The world's largest continuous zone of "temperate" climates lies in a belt stretching across Eurasia from southern Europe in the west to China in the east. “Rather persistently neglecting the fact that much of this zone is inhospitable desert and high mountains, Diamond describes this east-west-trending mid-latitude zone of Eurasia as the world region that possessed the very best environment for the invention and development of agriculture and, consequently, for historical dynamism.” (“Environmentalism and Eurocentrism.” Environmentalism and Eurocentrism)
The proximate causes of this were germs, technology (guns and steel weapons, ships), domestic animals (dogs, pigs, horses etc.), and writing. Jared Diamond states, the proximate reasons are obvious; Invading Europeans had steel swords, guns, and horses, while Native Americans had only stone and wooden weapons and no animals that could be ridden. “Those military advantages repeatedly enabled troops of a few dozen mounted Spaniards to defeat Indian armies numbering in the thousands.” (Brockman, Science at the Edge)

One of the most important advantages for the military was not just guns, although they were powerful, it was the steel that was popular, the Spanish swords were sharper and stronger and more vicious than that of the Indians stones and soft-metal or wooden weapons, there was no contest between the two, this is where horses played a major part in this advantage. The South Americans had large animals, such as the llama, but it didn’t send out as much fear to the Spanish as did the charging armored horses did to the Indians; with all these advantages the Spanish had another domesticated weapon, ferocious war dogs and this is how the Spaniards were able to over through thousands of Indians. (Shmoop Editorial Team)
Nevertheless, steel swords, guns, and horses weren't the sole proximate factors behind the European conquest of the New World. Infectious diseases introduced with Europeans, like smallpox and measles, spread from one Indian tribe to another, far in advance of Europeans themselves, and killed an estimated 95% of the New World's Indian population. Those diseases were endemic in Europe, and Europeans had had time to develop both genetic and immune resistance to them, but Indians initially had no such resistance. That role played by infectious diseases in the European conquest of the New World was duplicated in many other parts of the world, including Aboriginal Australia, southern Africa, and many Pacific islands.
The "ultimate" causes are three primordial environmental facts: the shapes of the continents, the distribution of domesticated wild plants and animals, and the geographical barriers inhibiting the diffusion of domesticates. The first and most basic cause is the shape of the continents: their "axes." A continental landmass with an "east-west axis" supposedly is more favorable for the rise of agriculture than a continent with a "north- south axis." Diamond divides the inhabited world into three continents (he uses the word "continent" rather broadly, Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas. Eurasia has an east-west axis; the other two have north-south axes. This has had "enormous, sometimes tragic consequences" for human history (p. 176). Because Africa and the Americas couldn’t produce or lack thereof of the proximate and ultimate causes they were unable to progress throughout most of history because their "axes" are north-south, not east-west.
In my opinion, I feel this is a very well put conclusion. It clearly makes sense that if the proper climate allows you to grow certain foods, to be able to feed the animals, to be able to become sedentary, to live with these animals and work with them, to be able to produce families and constantly grow, to have more ideas, to be able to domesticate plants and animals, to create or reinvent shows just how possible this conclusion can come to being one of the best-selling books ever. I feel Jared Diamond did plenty of research in his own way to make us view it like he did, he did a wonderful concept in explaining how the east-west axis played the hero as to why everything manifested together in all areas of production—food, technology, writing etc. I felt Jared Diamond proved his point in a very smooth way even though some points in the book could have been viewed differently, like the Europeans taking over tribe’s land, stealing their precious possessions, sending blankets with diseases, Pizzaro killing the king and all his people.
I felt Diamond proved his point in some ways and in some good ways as well but there are other ways of answering Yali’s question of why do people of Eurasian origin dominate the world. Diamond didn’t want to look at this with racism but it could have very well been that way. After visiting the Field Museum I truly wonder if this book guns, germs, and steel was a story just put together for confusion or manipulation. As I toured the museum I visited Africa of course, Ancient Americas, and the Aztecs or Indians, I came upon some history about the Pawnee tribe.
I spoke with one of the workers there named Nancy, who seemed to know a lot about this tribe. I told her about this book and she was shocked and intrigued at the same time. We were discussing the different technologies, food source, population etc. and she found it contradictory with what I had mentioned about the book. She also went to say that since they didn’t want to be Christians the Europeans killed them off. It was quite interesting to hear another side, and I must say I got several different outlooks about this book when I explain how Jared Diamond interprets it.
I feel that Jared Diamond has some good facts and logic and is very qualified to write this book, he did his research and traveled all over the world to make very valid statements as well, but I also feel that some of the information has been omitted or not fully uncovered to give us the in depth truth about the real reason why The Eurasian origin is richer. Just like the Real Eve, they won’t admit or accept how it really is (was)—meaning that just like in “Guns, Germs and Steel” a group of colonist came along and wanted the riches of the land in Africa and they killed thousands and thousands of Africans and took (stole) what they had established.
They want us to believe that Columbus discovered America and that they are superior but in watching the documentary of the “Real Eve” the original man was black and we had all the land, all the inventions, all the intelligence until the Europeans decided they wanted what our land produced. They will never admit any of these crimes, nor will they admit that they came from black ancestors; they will keep writing books that contradicts each other and wanting us to believe the lies that they tell us but in the end just like the beginning there will be peace when God comes; we will get our land back. No more “Guns, Germs and Steel.

Works Cited
Brockman, John. Science at the Edge: Conversations with the Leading Scientific Thinkers of Today. New York, NY: Union Square, 2008. Print.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "War in Spanish Colonization." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

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