Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Abridged Audiobook

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Book Rating (211)

Narrator Rating (9)

Written By: Jared Diamond

Narrated By: Grover Gardner

Date: July 2001

Duration: 6 hours 0 minutes


Winner of the Pulitzer PrizeIn this groundbreaking work, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for history's broadest patterns. It is a story that spans 13,000 years of human history, beginning when Stone Age hunter-gatherers constituted the entire human population. Guns, Germs, and Steel is a world history that really is a history of all the world's peoples, a unified narrative of human life.


  • David L

    Not Unabridged. The orginal book is somewhat long, so I cannot imagine being able to capture it in only six hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    The book started very slow and is very dry. There are many parts that are very educational and informative, but you may sleep through them since you likely already feel alseep at the wheel. It's OK, but a lot to take. The material is good and I did learn some but couldn't finish it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the general tenor of the other reviews. Fascinating book but pretty dense. It was a bit of a shlog to get through but I am glad I pushed on to the end

  • Anonymous

    Can become tiresome if listening all at once

  • Anonymous

    Interesting information but hard to follow.

  • Michael

    Very interesting intertwined history of the world and our impact on it.

  • Carronade

    Interesting premise and a thoughtful answer to the question raised...but...thank god I got the abridged version. I think this is to much information for the non-scientific reader. Interesting points, but frequently redundant and confusing.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting book! A friend recommended it. It's sometimes a little dense but enjoyable.

  • JH

    Not a "page turner", but definitely something everyone should listen to. He provides the most realistic theory behind the Eurasians domination of the Americas, Africa and Australia. Yes it is a bit a of history lesson - which can be boring at times, especially after listening to exciting audio books such as DaVinci Code, but if you are interested in the above then you should enjoy the book.

  • Raj

    This book had amazing potential but with too much detail for the lay reader (plus a reading style that reminded me of Ben Stein in Ferris Beuler) was enough to make me comatose... not good when I'm driving.

  • Anonymous

    Too much like doing my homework. The reader was monotonous. Great for insomnia.

  • Rick Lukacovic

    This could have been an interesting topic. The book was much too detailed and repetitive for the casual listener. It would probably be appropriate for a serious academic. I could not finish listening to it.

  • Diaphanous

    He really grabbed me with the beginning of the book, but I got bogged down with his interest in plant genetics and the importance of domesticating animals. Overall, I just didnt buy all his conclusions. Its a great book for discussion and starts out with a really interesting direction, but I thought the bulk of the book was a bit boring.

  • Eric Boyce

    Very interesting material, but I could have used the abridged version of the abridged version...WAY too much menutia for me (I only have about 10-20min worth of attention span for the history of animal domestication). Great subject matter though. "Collapse" is a much better offering from a very skilled and qualified author.

  • Tonia K Martinez

    I usually listen as I commute, run errands, shop for groceries. Maybe too easily distracted, I had a hard time keeping my mind on the book. I found it interesting but not engaging.

  • Anonymous

    This was about as boring a book as I have ever heard. When I read the excerpts in the book store I was very excited. Unfortunately like movie trailers that show all the good parts of a bad movie in 2 minutes the excerpts were the best part of the book. There is nothing new or earth shattering presented here. It is a rehashing of the same old sociological ideas that have been around for decades. Save your time and pass this one by.

  • Cyndie Browning

    I've long wondered why most of the current civilizations around the world seem to be based on a European way of life, and Diamond does explain that effect adequately. However, the book itself is monotonous in the extreme; for a while there, I was counting the number of times the phrase "for instance..." appeared, and I began dreading the sound of those two words. And second, while "Guns" (flat-out killing off the native peoples) and "Germs" (the diseases Europeans brought with them that they'd become immune to after living for eons in close quarters with their domesticated animals) did indeed contribute to the reasons for their decimation of the native peoples, I never really got the connection of "Steel," per se, to the story.... unless by "Steel," Diamond was referring to pure technology. If _I_'d written this book, I don't know that I could've done a better job of presenting the information--which, in itself, was very interesting--but I surely would have tried.

  • Diana

    Waste of time and after waiting months to "read" this book. Perhaps it is because I had just finished "reading" 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' (which is an outstanding book). This one just fell short in everyway. It was repetitive and totally uninteresting. I barely got through it. I kept thinking this book could have been written by a fifth grader! If you have not rented this book yet, please get A Short History of Nearly Everything and don't bother with this one.

  • Scott

    I give this audio book 2 stars since some of the ideas proposed are quite interesting. However, I take away three stars because to get to the interesting kernals of wisdom, you have to sift through and endure the torture of a terrible writing style (self-impressed, complex, faux-intellectual, constantly bragging about how smart he is through his textbook lecture style...)combined with a terrible monotone narration that synergize to make this book quite dangerous to listen to whilst driving (it will literally put you to sleep and cause an accident - serious!)

  • Anonymous

    This is a very good book but the narrator has a sonorous boring voice. This voice makes it more difficult to keep one's attention focused on the reading.

  • Judy Stokes

    Really enjoyed this book, especially because it was the abridged version yet felt very comprehensive. It covers a huge swath of human history and provides intriguing theories about why we evolved as we did. Tackles sensitive subjects, potentially tinged with racism, in a very objective way. It will make you think...

  • Anonymous

    A necessary background check on modern civilization. This thesis explores the causes of Eurasian world domination. The concise abridged version is very intelligible and easily digestible.

  • Anonymous

    The author gives a plausible and understandable explanation for the distribution of material goods and advancements in technology that have occurred unequally throughout history. I found the book invaluable in understanding the world as it is today.

  • David Jackson

    This is a great look at the multi-lateral reasons for the success of Europeans throughout history. It manages to do so while avoiding all the racist baloney (from both sides) we always hear about today. Even though I am not a history buff, I found it fairly engaging and will listen to it again some day.

  • Cheryl Fox

    As always, Mr. Diamond's books are interesting and informative. I would love to hear the unabridged version. He gives a whole new perspective to the world around us and how we truly are "one planet." Very enjoyable.

  • Sanjay Singhal

    This is a book I've been meaning to read for a while, and it was worth the wait. Diamond takes a naturally dry topic, history with data, and turns it into a captivating narrative describing how we all got here, and where many current day prejudices come from. The book corrected many misperceptions I've had, particularly that western europeans were somehow superior in approach to problem-solving and that's how their culture came to dominate much of the world. The real reason is much more complicated (and interesting).

  • Anonymous

    Let's put it this way....I'm very thankful that this was the abridged version. The tome is very detail oriented. I could have gotten the point by just listening to the epilogue.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, was this ever a snoozer! Typically, I enjoy history and cultural anthropology but it was dangerous driving with this one in the CD player.

  • Anonymous

    This is a book everyone in the world should read - or listen to.

  • Andy Rock

    I actually read this in the hardback soon after it came out; it is quite long and I rarely complete long books--I did finish this one, however. It is truely a remarkable book. The author studied the subject of why some societies end up dominating others and reaches some original and compelling conclusions in answer to his questions. The title is the essence of what the book is about. The author has a great story-telling capability. Interested in how the social order we take for granted got to where it is? Read this book.

  • KD

    I loved this book. I would have loved it more if the reader had been more animated. But, even so, I enjoyed it. However, I should note that I love history and tend to enjoy books that broaden my understanding of history or the theories that surround historical events. Someone only mildly interested in those things might find this book boring.

  • Anonymous

    If you can make it through this book, you can make it through any insurance salesmen seminar, that is how ridiculously boring this diatribe is. Mr. Diamond wants you to believe, through obscure artifacts, that the people of New Guinea are geniuses and those of us who come from European ancestry our idiots and the only reason that we are so successful as a nation is due to "good" timing and luck. This book is crap, move on to another selection.

  • Anonymous

    very thorough, insightful, well written and well read

  • Sue H

    I've been interested in this book ever since I read the premise. Then PBS came out with a television series based on this book. I watched the first episode and really liked it, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see the rest. So then I got this version on audio. Well, I was much disappointed. It's not bad enough to stop listening to it (yet), but the presentation of the material isn't as succinct as the PBS adaptation. I feel like the book is just an endless series of lists and statistics.

  • Anthony Smith

    I'd read part of the book and found it fascinating. It's reputation is well known, as well. But this was a strange abridgement. The audiobook seemed dry and lifeless in comparison with the written book. Long lists of foods produced by various ancient cultures--tedious in text and torturous read aloud--were left in, yet the fascinating stories of Conquistadors in South America were skipped through. ? Plus the narrator had an annoying, nasal lecturing tone. I stuck it out, but was dissappointed.

  • Anonymous

    Not saying there was not good information here, just nothing that would hold my interest. As a biology major, none of this information was new to me or terribly enlightening. I could not finish and sent it back after 2 CD's.

  • Anonymous

    Incredible book that will change you. Instead of accepting lessons at face value in school this book brings an entirely different story to bear. Rent this book and your previous opinions and thoughts on the subject will not go unchanged.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely great book. Jared Diamond gives a great recount of the history of human beings and our evolution on earth.

  • Robert Swanson

    A very interesting study into how guns, steel and germs influenced the growth, development and spread of civilizations. One (of many) interesting tidbits: man has been abled to domesticate only about 14 of all the thousands of large mammals that existed. The ability of certain civilizations to domesticate one or more of these animals gave them a relative superiority over those civilizations that were not able to do so. Robert Swanson

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

by Jared Diamond

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