Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jared Diamond's book GGS

Finally finished with this book - I hate it when I take too long to read a book and in this case I was out of town for two weeks and I read half before I left and half when I got back so it's all a little mixed up in my mind.

I paged through the section in the back entitled "Further Readings".  This guy put a LOT of thought and study into this book.  I suppose it's a little presumptious for me to read his book and then say whether he's right or wrong, but I'm going to do it anyway.

In general, I agreed with his theory.  I thought it was fairly well-researched and his supporting evidence backed up his claims.  He mentions several times that he gives us only a very generalized overview of the history of humanity.   Obviously not every factor that contributed throughout history to the development of civilization could be included, so I thought he chose well what he did include.  My personal favorite parts included the information regarding the geographic availability of domesticatable plants and animals.  Who knew that Africa had all those animals that can't be domesticated!  Who knew that resource-rich America had so few plants that lent themselves well to farming.  I had always wondered why Zebras weren't being used as plow animals.  Now I know!

I find it completely, and indeed quite likely, that the Lord created the earth this way in order to fulfill His own grand purposes.  Who am I to say that He couldn't or didn't?  :-)  Not that it means that everything is pre-drafted.  But somethings were just going to be no matter what.  Wouldn't it be awesome to see the progression of humanity from a Godly perspective?  Honestly, this book made me more excited to go back (in some celestial day) and watch the entire show from beginning to end.

The argument that Diamond is reinforcing a Euro-centric view is just full of crap.  I thought he was working really hard to make a case for the rest of the world.  He explained quite thoroughly that it wasn't lack of brain-power (as racist people have assumed in the past) that stopped non-caucasion civilizations from developing as quickly.  It was just the sad fact that they didn't win the geography lottery.  He mentions culture briefly, and I'm sure that does come into play, but it is a topic for a separate book.  If you've ever read "Exodus" (Leon Uris) the idea that one reason the Jews succeeded in making Israel blossom over the past 50 years (where the Palestinians have lived for eons and done nothing to improve) is because of a culture of hard-work.  And if you love history and haven't read "Exodus" and "The Haj", well, you just have it.  :-)

My feelings on the whole - interesting book.  I skimmed parts that seemed to drag.  I thought he was pretty spot-on with his theory, and am now a little more enlightened about history than I was before!  Two thumbs up.

1 comment:

Kami said...

I loved Exodus and hated The Haj. Weird, eh?