Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 18

1)  This chapter should be an easy one--lots of summary.  What I want you to do is to write, using your own words, one paragraph that summarizes the objectives of this chapter, "Hemispheres Colliding."  Remember the structure of the book itself.  We began with introductory matters where Diamond lays out his argument.  We moved on to the ultimate answers for Yali's question.  Then we moved to the proximate answers of Yali's question.  Now we are in a section that does something else.  Be sure that your paragraph uses the logic of proximate and ultimate distinctions.

 Eurasia's physical environment offered better material (plants and animals) for domestication and easier routes for diffusion of food production and higher population densities.   This ultimate factor (Eurasia's more favorable physical environment) led to proximate factors such as lethal germs, more advanced technology and centralized states which allowed Western civilization to conquer other societies.

 

2)  So this chapter does much to bring it all together.  But Diamond does introduce one last topic.  He wonders why the first collision of the hemispheres (Norse, circa 1000 CE) didn't lead to the demographic transition that we know begins in the 1500s (i.e., the demographic transition in the New World).  What answer does Diamond provide?

From p. 372: "The source (Norway), the targets (Greenland and Newfoundland) and the time (984-1410 CE) guaranteed that Europe's potential advantages of food production, technology, and political organization could not be applied effectively."