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Guns, Germs, and Steel

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Geography: The True Reason We're All Here An examination of Guns, Germs, and Steel Yali posed an interesting question. Why did Europe come to dominate the rest of the world after 1500? Jared Diamond, in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, concludes that geography is the defining factor in all of human history. While some people may disagree with his conclusion, that is only because it might not seem to take individual choice into consideration, which makes a person feel uncomfortable to say the least. Why would a person be inclined, even before they learn the facts, to disagree with his theory? What are the other theories, and why would people choose to believe them over this one? And finally, what makes this theory more accurate? Rest easy, the answers will come. Humans, especially in America, respect individuality. Why then, should they believe a theory that seems to discard every individual choice, and dare to say that where your great-great-grandfather was born has more to do with your success than your disposition, dreams, or dealings? People are repelled by a theory that does not glorify human endeavor. ...read more.


Surely Columbus was part of history, but wouldn't the Americas be discovered eventually anyway? Here lies the logical fallacy of the "Big Man Theory." It is impossible to go back in time and find out how history would be different without certain individuals, but is it not true that someone probably would have filled the vacuum had Columbus been killed before his journey? And so, the historical geocentrics, and Jared Diamond is one of many, have come to believe that the great men do make choices, and that great men do take power, but that there are great men in every culture, just waiting to be recognized and have their views expressed such that when a slot becomes open there is always someone to fill it. Each culture produces its own amount of "slots" available for big-manship, so the frequency of radical change, as often occurs with a "Big Man" in power, is directly influenced by geography. Furthermore, "Big Men" only stay in power if they are working in the best interest of the state. ...read more.


Those that survive the short battle have now been exposed to the special diseases that came from using manure and such on the fields. Now, the nomadic tribe lies sick and starving, and their former land is transformed into pastures for livestock and agriculture. So the story goes, repeated time and time again, on small and large scales, culminating in the political distribution of people today. There was no "Big man" in farming town, but they still decimated the less technological nomads. And it was all because they lived in a place where their crops would grow; their geographic location. Though it may not glorify individual choice, Jared Diamond's final conclusion of historical geocentricism does at least recognize it on a larger scale. It is just that people's choices are dictated by their interests, which are first and foremost survival and success. "Big Men" are simply products of a society that needs them, and are part of the process of proliferation. Geography is the fundamental force behind the success or failure of a given culture, and history just followed the game plan from there on out: Every society struggling for success. Sounds like whoever said "Location, location, location" was right after all. Nat Henderson-Cox Period 5, Greenough ...read more.

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