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

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves”

“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.”

“Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops could have overthrown the Roman Empire. It never happened.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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