Guns, Germs, And Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years


Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own? – Yali, a New Guinean politician

I admit I had never asked that question. That is a really good question.

My history teacher taught us what had happened, but did not spend much time explaining why.

Why was it Europeans who sailed and conquered New World, instead of Native Americans conquering Europe?

As the title suggests, it turned out that those who acquired guns, germs, and steel had advantage over those who didn’t. In answering why some acquired them and others didn’t, we learn a short but whole human history of last 13,000 years.

The main conclusion in this book was that societies developed differently in different places, not because of its people, but its environment. Achieving food production and sedentary lifestyle was first keys for success, but not all continents were as fortunate as Eurasia continent. Eurasia continent had a variety of wild plants and animals that people could domesticate, and the shape of Eurasia continent was also ideal for diffusion of technology. All of them had a chance becoming major player in human history, but unfortunately, most of them were at WRONG continent! Life IS unfair.

This book is important because the theory here could “prove” the equality of human being. It might be politically correct to think all races are equal in terms of intelligence, but I could not wipe away my small doubts completely until now.

Now I can say, with a bit more confidence, that we are all same human beings. For me, it is a huge liberation.

Now I am temporary back from nomadic life, I am now reading more physical books than e-books. Although I enjoy holding real paper books, I am missing many features on my kindle, like being able to quikly look up dictionary and underline texts. For casual reading like fiction, physical books are just fine, but when I want to really study books (taking note, underlining, and reviewing), I think e-books will be my default media for reading.