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Guns, Germs, and Steel
Online Intensive

Agora Foundation Online Intensives - Guns, Germs, and Steel
by Jared Diamond

“Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.”


Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond, published in 1998, attempts to provide a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. The book strives to answer the deep question: “Why did history unfold differently on different continents?” Through detailed examples and arguments, Guns, Germs, and Steel outlines why Eurasian and North African civilizations have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the Aventis Prize for Best Science Book. A documentary based on the book, and produced by the National Geographic Society, was broadcast on PBS in July 2005. 


“It seems logical to suppose that history's pattern reflects innate differences among people themselves. Of course, we're taught that it's not polite to say so in public. We see in our daily lives that some of the conquered peoples continue to form an underclass, centuries after the conquests or slave imports took place. We're told that this too is to be attributed not to any biological shortcomings but to social disadvantages and limited opportunities. Nevertheless, we have to wonder. We keep seeing all those glaring, persistent differences in peoples' status. We're assured that the seemingly transparent biological explanation for the world's inequalities as of A.D. 1500 is wrong, but we're not told what the correct explanation is. Until we have some convincing, detailed, agreed-upon explanation for the broad pattern of history, most people will continue to suspect that the racist biological explanation is correct after all. That seems to me the strongest argument for writing this book.” ― Jared Diamond


We invite you to join us this September for eight weekly online seminars taking place on Tuesday afternoons, 12:00-1:30PM Pacific Time. Text will be supplied.  The group will be limited to twelve participants and teachers will be offered 2 CEU credits for participation. 

Make one $500 payment to join (subscribers receive a $50 refund)

Make two monthly payments
of $250 (subscribers receive a
$50 refund)


Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Begins September 20 and ends November 8, 2022


Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

W. W. Norton & Company; 20th Anniversary edition (March 2017)

ISBN - 978-0393354324

Dates and Curriculum

1) Session One

Tuesday, September 20 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Preface and Prologue - Yali’s Question

Part One - From Eden to Cajamarca

Chapter 1 - Up to the Starting Line

Chapter 2 - A Natural Experiment of History 

Chapter 3 - Collision at Cajamarca

Pages 9-78


2) Session Two

Tuesday, September 27 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Two - The Rise and Spread of Food Production

Chapter 4 - Farmer Power

Chapter 5 - History’s Haves and Have Nots

Chapter 6 - To Farm and Not to Farm

Chapter 7 - How to Make an Almond

Pages 79-125


3) Session Three

Tuesday, October 4 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Two Continued - The Rise and Spread of Food Production

Chapter 8 - Apples or Indians

Chapter 9 - Zebras, Unhappy Marriages, and the Anna Karenina Principle

Chapter 10 - Spacious Skies and Titled Axes

Pages 126-183


4) Session Four

Tuesday, October 11 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Three - From Food to Guns, Germs, and Steel

Chapter 11 - Lethal Gift of Livestock

Chapter 12 - Blueprints and Borrowed Letters

Pages 185-228

5) Session Five

Tuesday, October 18 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Three Continued - From Food to Guns, Germs, and Steel

Chapter 13 - Necessity’s Mother

Chapter 14 - From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy

Pages 229-280


6) Session Six

Tuesday, October 25 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Four - Around the World in Six Chapters

Chapter 15 - Yali’s People

Chapter 16 - How China Became Chinese

Chapter 17 - Speedboat to Polynesia

Pages 281-338


7) Session Seven

Tuesday, November 1 - 12:00-1:30PM PDT

Part Four Continued - Around the World in Six Chapters

Chapter 18 - Hemispheres Colliding

Chapter 19 - How Africa Became Black

Chapter 20 - Who are the Japanese?

Pages 339-407


8) Session Eight

Tuesday, November 8 - 12:00-1:30PM PST

Epilogue - The Future of Human History as a Science

2017 Afterword - Rich and Poor Countries in the Light of Guns, Germs, and Steel

Pages 409-444

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