Wow. What an eye-opening read.
This weeks reading consisted of chapters 4, 5 ,6 and 8, of Jared Diamonds book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. Each chapter had inter-related and thought provoking topics; Farmer Power, History’s Haves and Have nots, To Farm or Not to Farm, and Apples or Indians.
For me, Diamonds most thought-provoking theory is that agriculture was an essential step in the creation of guns, germs and steel. But how? Diamond focuses on the concept that, “Depending on their geographic location, societies differ in how readily they can receive technology.”
Diamond goes into much detail explaining this theory. He can be hard to follow sometimes but I was still engaged by all of his interesting ideas. His writing style is very factual and in depth. I appreciate how he asks “Why?” after a lot of his thoughts, it was almost like a little reminder about the bigger picture he is focusing on.
Diamond explains that throughout history, certain locations have had an advantage and were extremely successful due to the plants and animals they’ve had access to. Access to highly productive crops, usually within the Poaceae(grass) family, played a significant role in the success of a farmer. For example, look at the success of wheat? Its easy to plant, collect the seeds, store the food, and has a high yield;not all geographic locations had access to crops with all of these characteristics. Farmers were also more productive if they had access to species such as cattle, goats, ox, sheep, etc. They could use domesticated animals for meat or leather, or continuous supply wool or milk. Raising livestock began to eliminate the need to hunt for wild game. Domesticated animals were also used as manual labour to plough fields, creating a highly productive and less labour intensive form of farming. Farmers that had a highly productive crop, and domesticated animals in their geographical region were destined for success. The combination of domesticated plants and animals promoted an extraordinary agricultural advance for humankind, creating more energy and time for us to enhance technological skills. Agriculture was an essential step in the creation of guns, germs and steel.
Absolutely amazing! This book has completely shifted my perspective on the impact of agriculture.
Diamond, J. 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel:The Fate of Human Societies. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York. Page 81-113, 131-156.