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Guns, Germs, and Steel

by Jared Diamond
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. 494 pages.

Guns, Germs, and Steel takes on the ambitious task of explaining the development of human civilization since the Ice Age, and succeeds marvelously. Arguing that "[h]istory followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves," Jared Diamond explains the rise of the West in terms of geography and environment, debunking racially based theories. Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Guns, Germs, and Steel was praised by E. O. Wilson for showing "how history and biology can enrich one another to produce a deeper understanding of the human condition."