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Watch > Episode > Jared Diamond - Guns Germs Steel

Jared Diamond - Guns Germs Steel

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Jared Diamond is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the International Bestsellers “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, “Collapse” and his new book “The World Until Yesterday” and a professor at UCLA known for drawing from a variety of fields (AKA “polymath”) including anthropology, ecology, geography, and evolutionary biology.

His interdisciplinary approach to understanding human societies, encompassing fields such as anthropology, geography, and environmental science, has led to groundbreaking insights that challenge conventional narratives about our shared past.

Born on September 10, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts, Jared Diamond’s academic journey began with a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Harvard University. His intellectual curiosity propelled him to further studies at the University of Cambridge and later to earn a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Michigan. Diamond’s early academic career focused on ornithology, but his interests gradually expanded to encompass broader questions about human history, societies, and the environment.

Jared Diamond’s most celebrated work, “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies,” published in 1997, earned him the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. In this seminal book, Diamond seeks to answer the question of why certain societies developed faster and conquered others, challenging notions of racial superiority. The book’s title encapsulates the main factors he identifies: guns representing weaponry, germs representing diseases, and steel representing advanced technology. Diamond explores how environmental and geographical factors, rather than inherent superiority or inferiority, played a pivotal role in shaping the destinies of civilizations.

Following the success of “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” Diamond continued his exploration of the rise and fall of civilizations in “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” (2005). In this work, Diamond examines historical and contemporary societies that faced environmental challenges and explores the decisions that led to either their collapse or resilience. He emphasises the importance of sustainable practices and responsible resource management as key factors in a society’s longevity.

Jared Diamond’s interdisciplinary approach has had a profound impact on the academic world, fostering collaboration across various fields. His ability to synthesise complex ideas from anthropology, geography, ecology, and history has bridged gaps between disciplines, influencing a new generation of scholars who recognize the value of holistic perspectives in understanding human societies.

Beyond his scholarly contributions, Jared Diamond is an advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability. His works underscore the intricate relationship between human societies and their environments, emphasising the need for responsible stewardship of natural resources. Diamond’s engagement in environmental issues extends beyond the written word, reflecting his commitment to addressing the ecological challenges facing the planet.

Jared Diamond’s intellectual journey has been characterised by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a commitment to unravelling the complexities of human history. Through his acclaimed works and interdisciplinary approach, Diamond has reshaped our understanding of the forces that have shaped societies across time. As a scientist, author, and advocate, Jared Diamond continues to inspire a deeper appreciation for the tapestry of human history and the interconnectedness of our global story.

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