The Videos in this post constitute a documentary based on Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs and Steel. I recommend that anyone interested in World History read the 450 pages of the book - these videos give an excellent introduction to the main themes of the book.
Episode One : Out of Eden
Jared Diamond's journey of discovery began on the island of Papua New Guinea. There, in 1974, a local named Yali asked Diamond a deceptively simple question:
"Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo, but we black people had little cargo of our own?"
Diamond realized that Yali's question penetrated the heart of a great mystery of human history -- the roots of global inequality.
Why were Europeans the ones with all the cargo? Why had they taken over so much of the world, instead of the native people of New Guinea? How did Europeans end up with what Diamond terms the agents of conquest: guns, germs and steel? It was these agents of conquest that allowed 168 Spanish conquistadors to defeat an Imperial Inca army of 80,000 in 1532, and set a pattern of European conquest which would continue right up to the present day.
Diamond knew that the answer had little to do with ingenuity or individual skill. From his own experience in the jungles of New Guinea, he had observed that native hunter-gatherers were just as intelligent as people of European descent -- and far more resourceful. Their lives were tough, and it seemed a terrible paradox of history that these extraordinary people should be the conquered, and not the conquerors.
To examine the reasons for European success, Jared realized he had to peel back the layers of history and begin his search at a time of equality -- a time when all the peoples of the world lived in exactly the same way.
Episode Two : Conquest
On November 15th 1532, 168 Spanish conquistadors arrive in the holy city of Cajamarca, at the heart of the Inca Empire, in Peru.
They are exhausted, outnumbered and terrified -- ahead of them are camped 80,000 Inca troops and the entourage of the Emperor himself.
Yet, within just 24 hours, more than 7,000 Inca warriors lie slaughtered; the Emperor languishes in chains; and the victorious Europeans begin a reign of colonial terror which will sweep through the entire American continent.
Why was the balance of power so unequal between the Old World, and the New?
Episode Three : Into the Tropics
So far, Jared Diamond has demonstrated how geography favoured one group of people -- Europeans -- endowing them with agents of conquest ahead of their rivals around the world. Guns, germs and steel allowed Europeans to colonize vast tracts of the globe -- but what happened when this all-conquering package arrived in Africa, the birthplace of humanity?
Can Jared Diamond's theories explain how a continent so rich in natural resources, could have ended up the poorest continent on earth?
Can Jared Diamond explain how America fell to guns, germs and steel?