Oh and as to the original post, I have recently read 2 of David McCulloughs (prize winning author, anyway)books and enjoyed them very much.
Mornings on Horseback
Mornings on Horseback
You really should. It's tragic to read how we're making all the same mistakes they've made in the past, and learning nothing from it.
I think even Diamond is in danger positive spinning in places. He sees grounds for optimism in the way the Chinese and the Tokugawa Shoguns implemented reforestation programs, but as they didn't actually cut their timber consumption it just amounts to exporting their ecological damage elsewhere. Diamond acknowledges this, but it seems to undermine his case for citing these examples as grounds for optimism.
There are sobering lessons for those who think that the First World can simply pull up the drawbridge and live in glorious isolation too.
I haven't read Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse, but I'm hoping to get around to reading at least one of them this year. I thoroughly enjoyed The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee - and was hoping to give that one a re-read over the next month or so.
I didn't really like the part where he talks about the intelligence of New Guineans. I thought that one of the purposes of the book is to establish that there are no major differences in ability among different races, and then he starts saying New Guineans are probably smarter than Europeans because of cultural geography.
Jared Diamond has an article in the current issue of The New Yorker, also based on his New Guinea experiences. He described the revenge culture of a tribe in the absence of a government to avenge on behalf of the victim.
I'll quote ...from it:
Of course, though, people with long-term stakes don't always act wisely. Often they still prefer short-term goals, and often again they do things that are foolish in both the short term and the long term.
I thought a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of non-fiction deserved it's own thread and hopefully my search was correct when it said there isn't currently one. Diamond has also written a few other books including 2 I plan on reading if I enjoy Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Third Chimpanzee and Collapse. I'm about 70 pages into Guns, Germs, and Steel. So far it's not too dry considering the content.
yeah, I know the answer but I don't know where on earth in the book to look it up! I re-read the part on tribes becoming chiefdoms, but that was mainly about Africa and New Guinea. The whole question that I have to answer is: Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East? And the other question that I'm having trouble with is: Why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty? I think the answer is because they don't have as many crops that they can grow and export but I don't remember reading about that either.