Conquering world history: The Guns, Germs, and Steel quiz
By: Annette Parks
About This Quiz
Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning book was groundbreaking in its view of human societies. Why did some people manage to conquer others, and create hegemonic societies over people who were no less intelligent, resourceful, or strong? The answer lies in the use of guns, germs, and steel. Do you know the most important facts about the book?
How many years of human history does the book seek to explain?
At the beginning of the book, the author explains that it's a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. He goes on to explore why some continents manage to dominate others.
Which Native American people ruled over empires with only stone tools?
Aztecs and Incas
Both the Incas and the Aztecs were able to create large empires and rule over them with only simple stone tools. In many other parts of the world, societies consisted of farming tribes and hunter-gatherers.
What is one drawback to modern industrialized societies?
Poor health care
Less social support from friends and family
Modern societies enjoy longer lifespans, better medicine, and less death by homicide than hunter-gatherer groups. The drawback to this is that modern citizens have fewer close friendships and family ties.
Why does Diamond argue that societies at higher latitudes have a greater history of innovation?
Naturally more wealth and resources
Climate presents challenges to be solved
Diamond argues that civilizations at higher latitudes, as opposed to those in tropical climates, are forced to innovate in order to escape the cold. For instance, they need to build warm houses to be comfortable.
What is the most common -- and incorrect -- explanation for the fate of societies, according to Diamond?
Physical attributes of different societies
A racist biological explanation
Diamond explains that history has mostly been described along racist lines. People assume that since certain societies, such as the Western Europeans, managed to dominate, that must mean that the peoples of Africa, the Americas and New Guinea were inferior in intelligence and ability.
What is the purpose of this statement in the book: "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves."
This is Diamond's call to action
This is an oversimplification of the book
This is what his critics hated about the book
This is Diamond's one-sentence summary of the book
Diamond says that he wrote this sentence because journalists frequently ask for a one-line summary.
The same factors that molded Europeans' encounters with Native Americans also molded their encounters with whom?
The same factors that played into the conquest of The Americas were similar for Africa, although Diamond asserts that the long-term ramifications for Africa were far different than the Americas, mostly resulting in large-scale population shift.
Diamond asserts that human history should be established as what?
The other historical sciences include evolutionary biology, geology and climatology. The Epilogue of the book is titled, "The Future of Human History as Science," because this is what Diamond believes is an unsolved problem in how we view human history.
During the Ice Age, why were humans able to travel to other continents?
Creation of ships
Shallow seas became dry land
The glaciers of the Ice Age locked up so much of the world's oceans that sea levels dropped hundreds of feet. Therefore, shallow seas, like those between Asia and Indonesian islands, dried up and humans could walk over them.
According to Diamond, what were the last two continents to be colonized by humans?
Australia and Oceania
Asia and Europe
Antartica and Greenland
North and South America
Diamond omits Antartica from this statement because it has never had a self-supporting human population. Therefore, North and South America were the last to be populated, after the invention of ships or and after occupation of Siberia, which brought access to the Bering land bridge.