2003 Guns, Germs, and Steel (Jared Diamond)

guns germs and steel coverExcerpts from the letter of transmittal written by the students who chose the text:

We looked for books with qualities like universal appeal and readability as well as books that say something important and that raise or discuss a controversy.  We have determined that Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond  exemplifies these qualities. The book serves as an excellent introduction to the Honors sequence, Civilizations: Past, Present, and Future.

The idea behind the Honors Read is to create a common place for your class to commence the Honors Curriculum. We hope that sending this book to you over the summer provides a common and immediate place from which to begin a comprehensive discussion of some of the most important themes with which Honors deals: How should we live in society?  How do societies form and evolve? What is the relationship between society, art, science, and technology?  How does history inform the present, and how does the present inform our view of history?

In addition to these general questions, we have composed a few starter questions specific to Guns, Germs, and Steel.  We hope they help to get you thinking critically about the book.  Diamond certainly makes an argument about how human societies have evolved, but is there a moral component as well?  Some critics have argued that Diamond is simply a geographic determinist C that is, he believes the development of a society is based completely on its environment.  In addition, Guns, Germs and Steel does not examine psychological and social theories behind human actions.  How would Diamond respond to these arguments?  We hope that these questions will give rise to more personally meaningful questions.  We encourage you to discuss these questions with your Honors peers upon your arrival to campus.