guns, germs, & steel pbs show?!

Looks like it’s become a mini-series: Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel has hit PBS! Great book, if repetitive and a little too ambitious — he has a great environmental/technology explanation of the differences in societal development between Europe and the Americas, but he’s pretty weak when trying to tackle Asia vs. Europe, or a number of other situations talked about near the end of the book. But anyway, it’s fantastic social science.

Wish I had a TV around… it would be nice if the show made it onto the web. For some time, I remember hearing that all of Commanding Heights was available for free on the web, but it looks like they’ve taken it down. We shall see.

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2 Responses to guns, germs, & steel pbs show?!

  1. Neil O'Connor says:


    The book was way superior to the series. John Hwalek sent me GG&S about 2001, but I didn’t get to read it until I was in Fallujah, 2004. You need to read: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes, which I read just after 9/11. I’d descibe him as moderately racist, or at least Eurocentric. Regardless, geography is destiny. Or botany. In the late 80′s, someone was promoting a theory that nations which preserved their forests were more successful. I just joined twitter. Still hate it.


  2. S Blumenthal says:

    “With Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond manages the impressive feat of articulating a huge idea, a theory of the environmental determinism of human evolution, in both understandable and persuasive terms. It’s a masterful work.”

    The main problem with it is that it overlooks genetic changes that accompanied cultural and geographic change. Particularly, the advent of agriculture has been shown by the likes of John Hawks to have lead to a raft of genetic change. Others like Scott Williamson, Bruce Lahn and Ben Voight have shown a number of changes that relate to neurological function. For instance, you see new versions of SLC6A4, a serotonin transporter, in Europeans and Asians. There’s a new version of a gene (DAB1) that shapes the development of the layers of the cerebral cortex in east Asia. More of this will be understood as the cost of genome sequencing falls.

    Books that build on Diamond’s work, but include the genetic changes include New York Times Science reporter Nicholas Wade’s ‘Before the Dawn’. Also, the more recent ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution’ by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending incorporates recent genome findings.