29+ quotes from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Quotes from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond ·  425 pages

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“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“With the rise of chiefdoms around 7,500 years ago, people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“It's striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Twelve thousand years ago, everybody on earth was a hunter-gatherer; now almost all of us are farmers or else are fed by farmers. The spread of farming from those few sites of origin usually did not occur as a result of the hunter-gatherers' elsewhere adopting farming; hunter-gatherers tend to be conservative.... Instead, farming spread mainly through farmers' outbreeding hunters, developing more potent technology, and then killing the hunters or driving them off of all lands suitable for agriculture.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops could have overthrown the Roman Empire. It never happened.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Not until the beginning of the 20th century did Europe's urban populations finally become self-sustaining: before then, constant immigration of healthy peasants from the countryside was necessary to make up for the constant deaths of city dwellers from crowd diseases.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“We know from our recent history that English did not come to replace U.S. Indian languages merely because English sounded musical to Indians' ears. Instead, the replacement entailed English-speaking immigrants' killing most Indians by war, murder, and introduced diseases, and the surviving Indians' being pressured into adopting English, the new majority language.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“The history of interactions among disparate peoples is what shaped the modern world through conquest, epidemics and genocide. Those collisions created reverberations that have still not died down after many centuries, and that are actively continuing in some of the world's most troubled areas.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“One way to explain the complexity and unpredictability of historical systems, despite their ultimate determinacy, is to note that long chains of causation may separate final effects from ultimate causes lying outside the domain of that field of science.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“My two main conclusions are that technology develops cumulatively, rather than in isolated heroic acts, and that it finds most of its uses after it has been invented, rather than being invented to meet a foreseen need.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“It seems logical to suppose that history's pattern reflects innate differences among people themselves. Of course, we're taught that it's not polite to say so in public. We see in our daily lives that some of the conquered peoples continue to form an underclass, centuries after the conquests or slave imports took place. We're told that this too is to be attributed not to any biological shortcomings but to social disadvantages and limited opportunities.

Nevertheless, we have to wonder. We keep seeing all those glaring, persistent differences in peoples' status. We're assured that the seemingly transparent biological explanation for the world's inequalities as of A.D. 1500 is wrong, but we're not told what the correct explanation is. Until we have some convincing, detailed, agreed-upon explanation for the broad pattern of history, most people will continue to suspect that the racist biological explanation is correct after all. That seems to me the strongest argument for writing this book.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“When you have seen the errors in which you live, you will understand the good that we have done you by coming to your land by order of his Majesty the King of Spain. Our Lord permitted that your pride should be brought low and that no Indian should be able to offend a Christian.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“All human societies contain inventive people. It’s just that some environments provide more starting materials, and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions, than do other environments.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Besides justifying the transfer of wealth to kleptocrats, institutionalized religion brings two other important benefits to centralized societies. First, shared ideology or religion helps solve the problem of how unrelated individuals are to live together without killing each other—by providing them with a bond not based on kinship. Second, it gives people a motive, other than genetic self-interest, for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Thanks to this availability of suitable wild mammals and plants, early peoples of the Fertile Crescent could quickly assemble a potent and balanced biological package for intensive food production. That package comprised three cereals, as the main carbohydrate sources; four pulses, with 20—25 percent protein, and four domestic animals, as the main protein sources, supplemented by the generous protein content of wheat; and flax as a source of fiber and oil (termed linseed oil: flax seeds are about 40 percent oil). Eventually, thousands of years after the beginnings of animal domestication and food production, the animals also began to be used for milk, wool, plowing, and transport. Thus, the crops and animals of the Fertile Crescent's first farmers came to meet humanity's basic economic needs: carbohydrate, protein, fat, clothing, traction, and transport.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Yes, world history is indeed such an onion!”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“It invites a search for ultimate causes: why were Europeans, rather than Africans or Native Americans, the ones to end up with guns, the nastiest germs, and steel?”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Despite being depicted in innumerable cartoons as apelike brutes living in caves, Neanderthals had brains slightly larger than our own. They were also the first humans to leave behind strong evidence of burying their dead and caring for their sick.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Tolstoy meant that, in order to be happy, a marriage must succeed in many different respects: sexual attraction, agreement about money, child discipline, religion, in-laws, and other vital issues.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Naturally, what makes patriotic and religious fanatics such dangerous opponents is not the deaths of the fanatics themselves, but their willingness to accept the deaths of a fraction of their number in order to annihilate or crush their infidel enemy.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“food production was indirectly a prerequisite for the development of guns, germs, and steel. Hence geographic variation in whether, or when, the peoples of different continents became farmers and herders explains to a large extent their subsequent contrasting fates.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“...invokes the supposed stimulatory effects of their homeland's cold climate and the inhibitory effects of hot, humid, tropical climates on human creativity and energy. Perhaps the seasonally variable climate at hight latitudes poses more diverses challenges that does a seasonally constant tropical climate”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“The whole modern world has been shaped by lopsided outcomes.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“In contrast, once food can be stockpiled, a political elite can gain control of food produced by others, assert the right of taxation, escape the need to feed itself, and engage full-time in political activities.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Thus, Fertile Crescent and eastern Mediterranean societies had the misfortune to arise in an ecologically fragile environment. They committed ecological suicide by destroying their own resource base.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“Still later, after the invention of saddles and stirrups, horses allowed the Huns and successive waves of other peoples from the Asian steppes to terrorize the Roman Empire and its successor states, culminating in the Mongol conquests of much of Asia and Russia in the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. Only with the introduction of trucks and tanks in World War I did horses finally become supplanted as the main assault vehicle and means of fast transport in war. Arabian and Bactrian camels played a similar military role within their geographic range. In all these examples, peoples with domestic horses (or camels), or with improved means of using them, enjoyed an enormous military advantage over those without them.”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


“New Guineans old and young routinely eat mice, spiders, frogs, and other small animals that peoples elsewhere with access to large domestic mammals or large wild game species do not bother to eat. Protein”
― Jared Diamond, quote from Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


About the author

Jared Diamond
Born place: in Boston, The United States
Born date September 10, 1937
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