Is it not strange that when several nations are on the brink of entering a futuristic technological era, others are still in modern Stone Age? How did such differences in evolution occur when we all emerged from the same place? These are just some of the riveting questions Jared Diamond attempts to answer in his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. This Pulitzer Prize winning document is different from the rest as it explores several worldly themes and factors to support his thesis, such as racism, conflict, technology, and political and social structures.
Diamond’s book is a monumental historical text that delves deep into time to unravel the evolutionary mysteries of the modern world. In the prologue of his book, Diamond introduces the body with an anecdote of his extensive travels in New Guinea. There, he met an aboriginal political leader named Yali, who posed an important question to Diamond. Why was it, he asked, that whites had been so successful and arrived with so many technologies compared to the indigenous tribes of New Guinea who are still living in the Modern Stone Age?
How did the whites evolve to be a superior race? This leads to the first theme of the book, which is ethnocentrism and racial superiority. Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel is commendable as it explains evolution from a non-racial perspective. An intention of this book is to demoralize Eurocentric thinking and racist explanations as they are erroneous and narrow-minded. He explains that the fact that one is less evolved does not mean that one is less intelligent.
In fact, as Diamond says, New Guineans are “more intelligent, more alert, more expressive, and more interested in things and people around them than the average European or American is. ” (Diamond 19) Diamond’s main thesis is that white Eurasian domination has occurred not because of racial differences in intelligence, but rather because of environmental differences. As Diamond illustrates in chapters 2, 3, and 18, the idea of conflict between cultures plays a foremost role in shaping the evolutionary process.