Jared Diamond | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jared Diamond 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Why is it that, out of all the world's peoples, Europeans were the ones who discovered and conquered so many others? Few historians deal with this question. It took an outsider, UCLA physiologist Jared Diamond, to put together an answer in the best-selling 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Drawing on fields from archaeology to crop genetics, Diamond concludes that Europeans dominated in part because of geography: they came from a continent with few barriers (allowing useful innovations to diffuse easily) and many plants and animals that could be usefully domesticated (the germs they harbored proved devastating to Native Americans). Diamond claims moral as well as intellectual reasons for telling this story. In the absence of any other explanation for the European conquest, he writes, people often resort, "consciously or unconsciously, to racist assumptions. . . . That prevalence of racist theories, as loathsome as they are unsupported, is the strongest reason for studying the long-term factors behind human history." Last month, regardless, a couple of anthropologists at the blog savageminds.org tried to tag Diamond as a racially insensitive apologist. I think they're just jealous. Tue 10/11, 7:30 PM, Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-665-7400. $24-$30, $15 students and educators. Advance tickets recommended.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Harold Henderson

  • The Recyclable House

    The Recyclable House

    If Ken Ortiz has his way, no one in Chicago will ever simply "demolish" a building again.
    • Jul 24, 2008
  • Sympathy for the Devil?

    Sympathy for the Devil?

    Progressive scribe Rick Perlstein made his reputation finding the good in conservatives. Then they really started screwing up the country.
    • Jan 24, 2008
  • Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Wanna raise funds to run for office? Nag Schwarzenegger about health care? Or just make fun of Bush? Call Articulated Man.
    • Jan 10, 2008
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
September 05

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories