- Term Papers and Free Essays

Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond

Essay by   •  December 11, 2010  •  1,389 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,893 Views

Essay Preview: Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jered Diamond

Chapter 14: From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy

The thesis of this Chapter from “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jered Diamond, describes the development of civilized mankind from the last Ice Age until modern times: the ways in which people evolved from small groups called “Bands,” to the way almost all of us live today, which is in “States.” The topic is interesting but the author rambles his way through this evolution. I think that this chapter could be improved by the use of Sub Heads, rather than just one extra space, when a new theme begins. There are so many themes and the first sentence of each theme often doesn’t explain what the author is about to explain. In other words, it does not adhere to the basic rule of good essay-writing: “Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you just told them.” It’s simple and it works.

The chapter is interesting in spite of this problem. The author tries to be amusing by starting off with a story about a friend called Doug. Doug flew in by helicopter to meet a band called the Fayu. Doug had a remarkable story to tell but there was no dramatic description of how the event ended. “Doug prayed that the visit would not end in violence” but we never did find out if it did or not. The author was trying to get the reader involved by using an interesting story about his personal friend. It would have worked better had he told the whole tale.

The chapter then went on to describe many things and suggested that archaeology answers some of the questions we all have about how mankind developed into its present state. Actually, the present state is “State.” We have evolved from Bands to Tribes to Chiefdoms to States.

The first part of the chapter describes each of the four stages. For example, Bands (the Fayu is a Band) are comprised of “dozens of people” who are nomads because they have no resources, for example seeds. If they had seeds that produced a crop, they could become farmers who stay in one place. If Missionaries arrived, they would bring seeds with them and that would contribute to the evolution of the Band. Of course the Band members had to adopt the religion of the Missionaries and that was not always to their advantage.

One of the things that was difficult for me to understand was the way the author described how the stages of development occur. He said, “”First, because each stage grows out of some previous stage, the lines of demarcation are inevitably arbitrary. . . . Second, developmental sequences are not invariant, so examples pigeon-holed under the same stage are inevitably heterogeneous.” I read this over and over and I think it means that different societies pass through the four stages in different ways. The order of things, for example, is not always the same. As well, it’s not easy to define a stage. There are grey areas between stages. I would have liked the author to have been less wordy.

Tribes are then described. The author uses the example of the Fore, which was his own experience. It’s odd that this is his example because he says that Tribes are generally made up of hundreds of people while the Fore is made up of twelve thousand people. It appears that it is important to the author that his readers realize that his knowledge came from personal experience.

The author goes on to describe how archaeology contributed to his knowledge. Any reader who has been to an archaeological dig will find this interesting.

The author describes other interesting issues. For example, when the problem of “conflict resolution” comes up, it seems that because everyone in a Band is connected in some way, conflicts could most often be solved without violence.

The author explains that Tribes have many similarities with Bands. There are differences as well. For example, Tribes have a “residence.” This means that, in most cases, they are not nomads. As well, there are generally at least several Clans but the numbers are still small enough for everyone to know everyone else by name or at least relationship to a known person. The author’s theory is that there is less violence when there is a connection between people.

The author then goes on to describe Chiefdoms, which by 1492 (when Columbus sailed the ocean blue) were widespread over much of the eastern United States, Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Polynesia. Chiefdoms could include up to several tens of thousands of people and so, there was the potential for violence since it was impossible for everyone to be connected. This lead to Chiefs who were in charge but this was on an informal basis. The Chief stood out from the common people because of the way he dressed (fan or feathers in some cases) and it was common for commoners to give part of their crops to the Chief and his family, assistance



Download as:   txt (8.4 Kb)   pdf (105.5 Kb)   docx (11.9 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 12). Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond. Retrieved 12, 2010, from

"Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond" 12 2010. 2010. 12 2010 <>.

"Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond.", 12 2010. Web. 12 2010. <>.

"Guns, Germs, And Steel, Chapter 14, Jered Diamond." 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010.