by Megan Connolly*
Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-prize winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel has been transformed into a film with the help of National Geographic.
Diamond is also the author of Why is Sex Fun?, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal and his latest work, Collapse.
While the book Guns, Germs and Steel is very extensive and exhausting, the film makes the information much easier to digest.
The film is inspired by the question of a Papua New Guinean, who asks Diamond, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo, but we black people had little cargo of our own?”
Many wonder why the western world is so full of opportunity and wealth, while those in other parts of the globe have not advanced for millenia. This left Diamond with the need to understand the difference bewteen the “have and have-nots”. Diamond’s quest to answer this question led him on a worldwide search for the roots of global inequality.
The film consists of three one hour parts: “Out of Eden”, “Conquest” and “Into the Tropics”.
During “Out of Eden”, Diamond explains the agricultural revolution and the initial domestication of plants and animals. “Eden” explains how the first civilizations occurred and prospered because of their geographical placement.
Diamond believes that the successful farmers who had food surpluses had the chance to advance, while those who did not advance (such as Papua New Guinea) were becoming isolated.
The second portion of the film, “Conquest”, explains how advanceed societies were able to conquer other portions of the world. It attempts to answer why the balance of power between the Old and the New World was so unequal. Conclustion as to why America fell to guns, germs and steel are also drawn.
During the third and final portion of the film, “Into the Tropics”, Diamond discusses the colonial explotation of Africa by settlers. It explains how this continent, so abundant in natural resources, might have ended up the poorest continent on earth. Diamond explains why he believes the European settlers “robbed Africa”.
Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel is an exhaustibly researched, informative and necessary film. The documentary succeeds in explaining the roots of social inequality and the difference between the “have and have-nots”.
*Megan Connolly is a Moraine Valley student, who writes a regular column, “In the LRC,” for the student newspaper The Glacier. In this column, Ms. Connolly reviews and highlights new additions to the library’s collection. This article has been reprinted with permission.