Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2010 - (Page 38)

off the shelf Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. diamond review by Hossain Md. Jihad turjo on a sandy beach in 1972, a new guinean native named Yali asked a very simple question: “Why do you white men have so much cargo while we new guineans have so little?” Professor Jared diamond, who was asked this question, then found himself unable to answer. twenty-five years later, in his Pulitzer-Prize–winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Professor diamond attempts to answer Yali. he examines why certain peoples conquered others and not the other way around. he believes that such differences arose not because of genetic differences amongst the peoples themselves, but because of the geography and ecology of their different environments. in his words, “history followed different courses for different peoples because of environmental differences in their societies, not because of biological or genetic differences between the peoples themselves.” thirteen thousand years ago, people everywhere lived as nomadic huntergatherers who moved in small groups in search of food. they produced enough to feed only themselves and had to constantly move from place to place in search of new food sources. With the onset of farming, which first appeared in the middle east region called the fertile Crescent, enough surplus food was produced from agriculture to support people other than the food producers. this allowed those free from the burden of food production to specialize and develop new technology, such as better weapons and writing. a constant source of food allowed people to form permanent settlements near their fields. the advent of farming in different societies depended on available wild plants and animals that could be domesticated. domesticated animals meant a constant supply of meat, and in some cases milk, hair, or leather. some could also be used to pull plows, thus making farmland more productive. over time, cattle-herders developed immunity to germs carried by herd animals such as sheep and cows. societies that did not raise cattle suffered from strange diseases when they were attacked by those that did. so the countries that developed agriculture earlier are the ones that conquered others. this is why the continent of eurasia— with its productive crops and domestic herd animals, coupled with its lack of geographic barriers (enhancing the diffusion of knowledge)—dominated the ancient world with the triad of “guns, germs, and steel.” this is what allowed a group of 169 spanish conquistadors to overcome the mighty incan imperial army of 80,000 warriors. in the book, Professor diamond implicitly assumes that more food production will automatically lead to larger populations and specialization. this is not necessarily true. fire demands oxygen, but the presence of oxygen does not mean fire. also, the author should not have ignored the differences in culture and religion that led to many important conquests. for example, the Crusades occurred because of differing religions, and tribal wars occur because of cultures clashing. despite these flaws and omissions, Guns, Germs, and Steel is a must-read for anyone interested in knowing what shaped the modern world as we know it. Hossain Md. Jihad turjo is from dhaka, Bangladesh, where he is in grade 9 at mastermind School, dhaka. When he is not studying, turjo enjoys reading novels, watching tV, and sometimes playing on the computer. turjo recently completed honors chemistry through ctYonline. Also recommended In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez this is a gripping book about four sisters who live in the dominican republic. from law to schooling to secrets, the sisters subtly describe their life under a dictatorship. i recommend this book because of its variety of genres. Whether you like mystery or romance, this book covers it all. the language used is very kid-friendly, even though a serious topic is discussed. In the Time of the Butterflies is a fast read, and i highly recommend it. —Meera ramakrishnan, 13, MA The Year of the Hangman by gary blackwood 1776 was the year when the american colonists were defeated. the British emerged victorious, george Washington was captured, and the colonists fled south to Louisiana. a year later, 1777, is when Creighton Brown sets sail from London for the american colonies across the sea. from south Carolina to Louisiana to florida, this 15-year-old boy embarks on an adventure taking him all over Blackwood’s re-imagined american colonies. —david lo, 14, nJ 38 imagine nov/dec 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2010

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2010
Big Questions
In My Own Words
Inside the Ropes
Get Your Hands Dirty!
The Bone Reader
The Science of Archaeology
A Window to the Past
History and Archaeology in the News
National History Day
Dig This!
Selected Opportunities & Resources
Taking the Leap
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2010