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Pbs Special On Guns, Germs, And Steel


des
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I noticed that Monday, the book Guns, Germs and Steel will be a PBS special. I'm really looking forward to this. I thought the book was wonderful, though a lot repetitious. I also felt that it DID explain why some of us live in a technologically advanced way and others do not, why some people have dominated others, etc. It's a very good anecdote for racist type arguments.

 

I noticed on Amazon that not everyone was so fond of this book (no surprise I suppose!) and felt he was way oversimplifying and not including other factors like culture. I felt he did not imply other factors weren't involved (climate for example)-- though he really didn't delve in it, but that culture and environment are very intertwined.

 

I'd be interested in other comments on this.

 

--des

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Well the author, Diamond I think, does not exactly write in the most compelling way. THere are pages and pages of comparitive charts about domestication.

 

Actually this is his key thesis-- basically the ease at which plants and animals were able to be domesticated was the "driver" for civilizations. There are side comments on the types of diseases effecting different parts of the world, climatic factors, etc. but that's the basic thing. Germs followed the domestication of animals, and I forget how steel and guns get in there.

(I read this years ago). There are more domesticable plants and animals in parts of the world which became more technologically advanced. He has long tables of all the plants and animals, where they are in the world, and what year they became domesticated. It isn't the kind of thing you might like to pick up unless you are of the geeky sort, which I am. I think the title isn't too provocative either.

 

In the book is a line that I will never forget. Something like this: First he goes thru how zebras are almost impossible to tame and how many factors work against their domestication. Then he says something like "History would have been different if Africans had come into Europe riding on zebras. It never happened." I think a good title might have been "Why African didn't ride on zebras into Europe" (Though I think the publisher and I will need to work that title out. :-))

 

I'm hoping PBS can present it in a (more) dynamic way, as I think it is a very important contribution to thinking on culture and race.

 

--des

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BTW, I saw it and thought it was awesome. It looks like it will be a bit of a series.

 

Funny thing, I was watching this and thinking about all the domesticated species, the list of requirements-- social, group oriented, hierarchical, etc. Well there's gotta be some explanation but what happened with cats? (Some people say that cats aren't exactly domesticated. I'll buy that. :-))

 

--des

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BTW, I saw it and thought it was awesome. It looks like it will be a bit of a series.

 

Funny thing, I was watching this and thinking about all the domesticated species, the list of requirements-- social, group oriented, hierarchical, etc. Well there's gotta be some explanation but what happened with cats? (Some people say that cats aren't exactly domesticated. I'll buy that. :-))

 

--des

 

Anyone who lives with a cat knows you don't own a cat. Cats will choose to live with you or not.

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Hah, well Padfoot (or "badfoot") is not always esp. interested in civilization. But he does like my fish tank (and has gone for a "swim" every so often). Houdini is quite happy to be with me.

 

--des

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  • 2 weeks later...

I very much enjoyed this series (missed episode 2 but I'm sure it will be around again).

Anyway, what you don't get at all in the book, that I really really liked, is Jared Diamond the man, the scientist, with wonder like a little kid. (I was just captivated by him talking to the African children, sitting in the boat looking for birds, etc.) You just have no idea about this from the book.

 

--des

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