Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 2

1. Briefly describe the nature of the 1835 conflict between the Moriori and the Maori.

 

 

2. In what way was the conflict a "small-scale natural experiment that tests how environments affect human societies"? pg. 54  

 

    ~What thesis is Diamond attempting to prove?

 

3. If the Maori-Moriori conflict is a small scale test, Diamond spends the rest of the chapter conducting a medium-scale test.  Describe the nature (or method) of the test.  Your response should include the fact that the Pacific Islands were populated by people of a common culture, and that those islands ranged with very diverse environments.

 

 

4. What were the key 6 environmental variables of the Pacific Islands?

 

5.  How did different environments affect the islanders' various methods of subsisting?

 

6. How did the islanders' various methods of subsisting affect population densities?

 

7). Describe the social, political, technological and economic developments of those islands with very high population densities.

    ~social and religious complexity

 

    ~political

 

    ~technological

 

    ~economic

 

8.  The outcome of this medium-scale "test" can be found on the lower section of page 65.  Paraphrase the outcome in your own words.

 

 

 

Study Questions for Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 3

9. How would you characterize Native American culture before 1492 as portrayed at the start of chapter 3?

 

 

Pages 69 through 74 contains an account of Pizzaro’s conquest of the Incas in 1532. Because it is written by eyewitnesses of the battle, we call this a primary source.

 

10. How did the authors characterize the Inca; what terms do they use to describe them?

 

 11. What was the role of religion in the account, specifically, the Catholic Church?

 

 

12. How was the Spanish mission of salvation used as a way to legitimize political conquest?

 

 

13. What did Pizarro tell Atahuallpa’s messenger? What does this say about the nature of European-Native American relations?

 

 

14. What event precipitated the battle? What was the last thing the friar said before the fighting began?

 

 

15. Pizarro had 168 soldiers. How many Incas were slain? Specifically, what class of Incas were slain and how did Pizarro turn this to an advantage in taking over the empire?

 

 

16. Diamond moves on to discuss some of the advantages that the Spanish conquistadors had over the Inca. What were some of the military advantages?

 

 

17. What was the state of the Inca empire before the battle? How did European colonization cause this state of affairs? How is this an example of ecological imperialism?

 

 

 

18. How did European political organization enable Pizarro’s colonization of Peru?

 

 

 

19. How did writing and literacy figure in Pizarro’s conquest?

 

 

 

20. Diamond considers the European advantages (military technology, horses, infectious diseases, maritime technology, centralized political organization, and writing) proximate causes of Pizarro’s victory. What does Diamond mean by "proximate"?