Guns, Germs, and Steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel

2005, History  -   139 Comments
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Ratings: 7.48/10 from 182 users.

Guns, Germs, and SteelBased on Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity’s journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century. Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.

Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet? Why didn’t the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead? Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East? Why did farming never emerge in Australia? And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

As he peeled back the layers of history to uncover fundamental, environmental factors shaping the destiny of humanity, Diamond found both his theories and his own endurance tested.

The three one-hour programs were filmed across four continents on High Definition digital video, and combined ambitious dramatic reconstruction with moving documentary footage and computer animation. They also include contributions from Diamond himself and a wealth of international historians, archeologists and scientists.

Guns, Germs, and Steel is a thrilling ride through the elemental forces which have shaped our world – and which continue to shape our future.

Episodes included: 1. Out of Eden, 2. Conquest, and 3. Tropics.

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Mont
Mont
3 years ago

anyone else cant find part 3

nico
nico
3 years ago

but why are those papuans "poor"? they live in nature, are happy and have all they need to live and are free. I'd say they are richer than most westerners

Chase
Chase
4 years ago

anyone else get really freaked out by the audio or is it just my computer making it sound weird

Christine Bergman
Christine Bergman
5 years ago

Great. I use this in my class called Culture and Cusine.

joefel
joefel
6 years ago

What was the film about?

nasasira
nasasira
8 years ago

Good work from Jarod. However, am bothered by him stating that civilizations emerged from the "fertile crescent" and 13 of the 14 domesticated animals originated in the same place, which he calls "Eden". Science disproves this! the oldest known human remains were discovered in areas around the great African rift valley. the oldest known astronomical objects -the nabta playa megaliths- are found in the same place.
So if we abide by science, domestication of animals and the first human settlements took place in this place.
Why then would a man like profesor Jarod ignore this simple fact, unless there is a hidden agenda with his research? any answers out there, folks?

Fennario
Fennario
10 years ago

In my mind there is no question that in broad terms Diamond has nailed it. The march of western civilization has primarily benefited from fortunate geography and related circumstances, What could have been more beneficial then stumbling into two continents in 1492 that in less than 200 years became depopulated to the point that we could expand and exploit a brand new ecosystem with vast natural resources and be allowed to develop virtually unchallenged for the last 200+ years? I think we we would do well to realize that "American exceptional ism" is as much a product of geography as it is ideology.

William Hayes
William Hayes
10 years ago

At 52:30:"If your people enjoyed the same geographic advantages as my people, your people would have been to invent helicopters."

I doubt that

bogun
bogun
11 years ago

also, actually reading the book and comprehending the overall concept is key!!!

bogun
bogun
11 years ago

To all...most of your "arguments" support his "east-west" landmass hypothesis...as opposed to the "south-north" land mass...but, the fact remains...and history remains....Eurasia....was the key (including ALL of that huge "west -east" land mass)

caroline
caroline
11 years ago

how do i watch episode 2?

skeetskeet
skeetskeet
11 years ago

Great documentary, a lot of the arguments certainly hold a lot of weight. I suppose Guns Germs and Steel is far more marketable than the real key elements he argues for: Grass and Goats.

Amy Coyle
Amy Coyle
11 years ago

This book/show is the ultimate antidote against racist explanations for why things are the way they are in the world. Everyone should read/listen to the book and watch the programs.

Anand Arivukkarasu
Anand Arivukkarasu
11 years ago

One major area this documentary dint cover was the Indians and Chinese were a global power around 1000 AD, but they dint end up being imperial because culturally hinduism and Buddhism had a lot of teachings of avoiding greed and 'unlawful' occupation. Infact they were the first to invent gunpowder, use steel and also have large fleet of ships.

JB
JB
11 years ago

some of you have a real chip on your shoulders. this documentary is based on scientific data=theory, which means that is not proven and ultimately based on belief just like anything else. Get a grip!!

Documentales En la Red
Documentales En la Red
11 years ago

Hello. We have a lot of documentary films in spanish. Happy New Year!!!

judoon platoon
judoon platoon
11 years ago

This documentary is FAR better than the book: easier to get through, clearer, and more interesting. Thanks, whoever made this.

Nelly E Romero
Nelly E Romero
11 years ago

I love this book is a great part ofHistory!!

Nelly E Romero
Nelly E Romero
11 years ago

I thing is History and History is that History!! I do respect that great book.

Ajith Natarajan
Ajith Natarajan
11 years ago

Any history that tells of Europe being invaded? Asia, Africa, America, Australia all had invaders ..... Wonder why this point wasn't mentioned? Irrelevant?

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
11 years ago

Out of Eden'? is that really the name of the first segment.

Anna Trotta Githens
Anna Trotta Githens
12 years ago

Its quite simple: the Fertile Crescent is the Promised land that the Israelites were lead to by Moses after they were enslaved in Egypt - "The land flowing with milk and honey." The greatest civilizations throughout time were believers. Christianity is responsible for later thriving cultures and flourishing in the New World.

weyun
weyun
12 years ago

Diamond's major weakness, apart from the unproven assumptions of materialism, is its ignorance of ancient culture and the origins of the West. Diamond's environmental determinism can not explain why the ancient Greek city-states, possessing pretty much the same climate, geography, and species of plants and animals as did the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, nonetheless created what those older, more sophisticated civilizations did not: representative government, citizenship, philosophy, a rational approach to reality, political freedom, the beginnings of science, humanism—in short, most of the cultural components of Western civilization that have made it so dominant and that the rest of the world is desperately attempting to emulate.

To wit: How did the Ptolemies create an even more dynamic civilization than that of the earlier dynastic pharaohs, when they inherited from them a supposedly exhausted and increasingly salinized landscape? Or why did the palatial culture of Mycenae prove to be a dead-end society, and yet the radically different Greek city-state centuries later blossomed in the exact same environment? More immediately, are we to suppose that there are underappreciated micro-climates that separate Tijuana from San Diego, strangely different soils on the two immediate sides of the Korean DMZ, and something about those ever-changing lagoons of Venice that made it irrelevant in late Roman times, a world power in 1500, and once again a backwater by 1850? Did the environment of Britain improve from A.D. 400 to 1700 while Rome’s declined, thus explaining why the former outpost of the Western world became its new center and vice versa?

Quotes from Victor Davis Hanson.

She Shambala
She Shambala
12 years ago

Location, location, location...Could it really be that simple...?In many ways his conclusions made a lot of sense to me...hmmm...

Radoja Popovic
Radoja Popovic
12 years ago

First script were found in Vinca (Serbia), and it is seven to nine thausand years old. So this clame that Sumerian had first script is incorrrect.

Yngve Digernes
Yngve Digernes
12 years ago

The map of Spain's colonies in 1535 (at 5:00 in episode 2) somehow mysteriously excludes the western half of what is now the U.S., and instead shows a map of the U.S.-Mexico border which did not come into existence until 1848, after Mexico's independence from Spain. I would have expected more accurate maps from National Geographic...

Shannon!
Shannon!
13 years ago

theyre "incas" not "inkas"... hes assuming that you know at least some basic information about world history. Can you really not figure out how plants and animals spread? Do you have a middle school education? Its called trade.. and are you really asking why civilization in Europe was started...?

Radio Age
Radio Age
13 years ago

Please stop sounding foolish and read the source material. Being both ignorant AND arrogant, while hilarious, is not helpful. Diamond wrote another book called 'Collapse' which deals quite nicely with your Viking problem.

Actually, I doubt many of the 'intellectual powerhouses' represented by 'docall18' could make it through the beginning chapters of Guns Germs and Steel, simply because of the, ahhhh, boring academic analysis and lack of moving pictures to help demystify the meaning of all those big words.

docall18
docall18
13 years ago

Give me a break. So the papa new guineans still live in the stone age because they spend too much time hunting because the country hasnt any agricultural ability. What about its pigs and deer, aswell as its huge diversity of flora.
Look the vikings 100years ago. Their environment wasnt ideal yet they had technically sophisticated ships, metal-work and agriculture.

His explaination why the incas also were stone age, and didnt invent writing, the wheel etc is lame . Or why it was only Europeans, not Indians, Japanese, Chinese who expanded.

He failed to mention the European culture which was the major influential on war and expansion. Or religion, or human intellect and ability. Yes, natural selection is different when you major concern is running after prey somewhere warm and trying to survive in a colder climate.

Hexamon
Hexamon
13 years ago

Just a quick note to everyone who commented on the historical discontinuity of the documentary - please, keep in mind Jared Diamond's book is much more all-encompassing than the documentary. I think they did a great job at trying to jam in as much as possible from the book but it is hard not to miss some important points. The book makes it very clear from the first pages that it not a historical summary of human civilizations or a detailed research on how each civ. evolved but rather a high-level attempt to answer the key point on "Why was it that certain parts of the World evolved with one pace and others - with another?". It is written in wide brushes and certainly leaves much to speculation. It doesn't answer all the questions in the subject domain and the author makes it very clear he is fully aware of some of the difficulties still in need to be reconciled with his main points. It then becomes clear why some aspects (e.g. Indian civilization) were not elevated to the front pages (If I recall it correctly, India is reviewed in the book but not in as great detail as China, Europe or Americas). I think Jared D. has done an excellent job by taking many well known individual facts and combining them under a common umbrella - a major abstract pattern of how human civilizations evolve.

Ryan
Ryan
13 years ago

A good documentary, but I still have some questions:

1. First off, why was it European powers, not Asian or Middle Eastern or African who conquered the Americas and Australasia?
2. Why do civilizations rise and fall? Before the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the subsequent rise of the West, the Chinese, the Muslims, the Hindus and the Mongols all had a period of ruling the world. Why did they lose it?
3. African/Asian societies often did have similar technology if not better than Europeans during the Middle Ages. Why did they not advance more?

Aside from this, it was a good doc and I do not entirely agree that civilizational differences didn't play a role, but it's a good argument.

I actually wondered myself when walking around the streets of Toronto, an ethnically diverse mosaic. People of Eurasian descent are the majority population in essentially every region of the world except sub Saharan Africa. I always wanted to know why and how this happened?

anton
anton
13 years ago

I still do not understand why Papuans remained stoneage peoples. Anyone visiting Papua-New Guinea would be surprised how abundant the place is, I mean anything grows, it is just that the locals seem to be idle. Once I talked to a Russian officer who was stationed in Ethiopia sometime back in the 70's. He said he grew tomatoes and all kinds of vegetables there. He advised the locals to grow, instead of always ask for it, but they declined. I mean, why certain nations seem to be idle, while others try to keep busy?
I also lived 6 months in a Madagascar jungle and literally anything grew, yet the natives never bothered to cultivate anything. They just foraged until there was nothing left and then went hungry until the rainy season came. Not much foresight at all. Anyway, the doc does not explain this, instead goes on about the lack of calories...There is banana and coconut in Papua and also they used to eat each other. I would not call that a lack of calories. They did have their veggies and meat.

Vince
Vince
13 years ago

An interesting documentary with a point of view which he has a right to.

It is not the only one,however. Nothing, for instance, was mentioned about the long historic conflict between nomadic and settled peoples, which has not always been to the advantage of the latter.

Also he and the camera backed up his argument with strong appeals to the emotions, playing on guilt and victimization. That opens up the question, can there be a detached sciebtific view or are we simply victims of the arguments that press the right buttons.

There is danger in just blindy accepting things.

A similar documentary where people are in an expansionist phase would play on sense of destiny, often divinely sanctioned, and altruism with justified violence to those less blessed.

Perhaps we need a them and us theory?

Erika
Erika
13 years ago

In did it happened.

Erika
Erika
13 years ago

This is an amazing documentary, but a question comes immediately to me when the americans were infected by germs, why didn't it happend the other way? Why the europeans didn't got sick in Africa or America? I suppose africans adapted too to their own germs because they domesticated animals as europeans did.

sebi
sebi
13 years ago

brillant doc and very detailed regarding the geographical aspects. i profoundly admire his 30 years of research and commitment he dedicates in order to inform the viewer about the origins of european wealth and prosperity.

E Norton
E Norton
13 years ago

I think that ships played a big role in European dominance as well. The Europeans were able to get to the other places, and the people in the other places were not able to get to Europe. European ship-building technology had to be a big factor.

louai
louai
13 years ago

Jojo Darling ,you sound you had an eye opener class ,could we know what it is?

thanks

Jojo Darling
Jojo Darling
13 years ago

This documentary is so good, expect for that one part I know about better than Jared Diamond, so then I'm like, "God! Every since I took that class, I know a whole lot about that one place, and I'm of the opinion that Dr. Diamond should pay a whole lot more attention to that one place that I know about 'cuz I took that class that one time, and Jared Diamond is much less of a scholar because he didn't talk about that one place enough!" Being educated is such a torture, you know, because you just know all the stuff that 99% of the population doesn't know, and it's just frustrating that they don't know it, because you do and you wish they did too so you could talk on the same level, you know? Totally.

Ramon del Fuego
Ramon del Fuego
13 years ago

This documentary is so good, expect for that one part I know about better than Jared Diamond, so then I'm like, "God! Every since I took that class, I know a whole lot about that one place, and I'm of the opinion that Dr. Diamond should pay a whole lot more attention to that one place that I know about 'cuz I took that class that one time, and Jared Diamond is much less of a scholar because he didn't talk about that one place enough!" Being educated is such a torture, you know, because you just know all the stuff that 99% of the population doesn't know, and it's just frustrating that they don't know it, because you do and you wish they did too so you could talk on the same level, you know? Totally.

Tim Osman
Tim Osman
13 years ago

This theory makes sense in that even the planet itself is in a particular location in an orbit around the sun that happens to be perfect for life to develop and evolve for a relatively long period of time. If life was to develop on a planet such as Saturn or something, it would not be as advanced us earthlings due to its climate. And the fact that it is made of gas. I mean sure life could develop, but;What kind of life would that be? Probably pretty insignificant. If you know what I'm sayin'.

Tim Osman
Tim Osman
13 years ago

Interesting how geography was purposely left out of the title. I'm pretty sure 'guns, germs, and steel', were a smokescreen for what he was really proposing. "Geography". I mean everybody knows guns, germs, and steel affected indigenous societies greatly. Yet nobody really wants to say the planet earth as a "Planet" was not created equal. People prefer to attribute the success of a culture to its ingenuity. This guy knew he had to walk on egg shells.

coyote03
coyote03
13 years ago

There are definitely a few contradictions, but the point was simply that Geography (natural resources, climate, physical landscape, disease, etc) had a lot to do with the success of certain peoples. Europeans have used Guns, Germs, and Steel to conquer, FACT. Jared Diamond does not exhibit colonial or patriarchal biases, Europeans did conquer those places, the question he tries to answer is how were they able to do so being that they were in no way more intelligent then other peoples around the world. Diamond goes to great lengths to show that all people are the same, it is our geographical location that has had the greatest influence in determining the way our modern world looks.

S.A.
S.A.
13 years ago

Diamond's theories are based on the assumption that all peoples aspire to "conquer" other peoples. And due to geographical luck, some peoples were better equipped to realize these aspirations. This documentary exhibits bias towards colonial and patriarchal attitudes.

Waldo Skipsey
Waldo Skipsey
13 years ago

Back-ground sound overcomes narator's instruction.Back and forth with volume control!

avidseeker
avidseeker
13 years ago

As a person of African descent, this question really did plague me as a child. I grew up with the unspoken assumption that Europeans were simply smarter or somehow more superior, since no one could explain why our country was so poor and our governments so inept while Europe and America (or any country with caucasians, excluding Japan ans Sth Korea) were so advanced.
This documentary was great. Of course I've since learned (and from watching Fox news as well as living in America) that if there is any superiority, its definitely not mental lol. There are lots of other factors of course besides guns, germs and steel. The development of a monetary economy, also began in the middle east and with it came POWER. Empires seemed to only rise in societies with a monetary system of some kind, and once your society runs on money, you have an enterprise.
Once u have an entreprise, you have to expand. Grow the wealth. Grow the power.
Even before the Europeans were conquering the known world, the Persians (Iran) were doing it, and before that the Babylonians (Iraq). There were also Phoenicians, Assyrians and a host of civilisations that had to expand and conquer or be conquered.
Spain's venture into the New World had alot to do with the Spanish kingdoms financial demise. Thats why they had their infamous lust for gold. Monetary economies people. :-)

Babbit
Babbit
13 years ago

Excellent documentary, but necessarily only a shadow of the book. I recommend those with objections read the book for the entire argument.

greek
greek
13 years ago

Good one but... like all documentaries it did not go to the real question! inequality of what?!
In development, in exploitation of others, in vanity of domination, in destroying the planet and each other? in ...., in ...., in what??... and in the bottom end what is civilization and why it is a good thing??
Since we got "civilized" the downfall has started!
Since we stopped being "primitive" hunters-gatherers we discover the power of "ownership" and "wealth" and we wanted more... together with the fact we had no longer a way to "invest" our imagination, ingenuity and aggression (as a hunter these are essential qualities) we started using these qualities against everything or everyone without reason and after the "killing" we were producing "arts" and "sciences" so we are civilized and proud and sleep peacefully... pff...
ah! i forgot to mention one more important factor of our "civilization" religion and pray before sleeping :)

BobbyD
BobbyD
13 years ago

I think they should say Guns, Germs and Steel more often in these docs.

Seriously, I don't think they say that enough.

It really took away from the experience for me.

esma
esma
13 years ago

13000 years last ''humanity’s journey''is spending too much time on the spanish conquest of inkas..nearlly whole episode..
world civilization was born on the fertile crescent and from there it began to spread..then all of a sudden it became european civilization .. when? how? why ?there is not any explanation.. smt is missing..