Finally!! I managed to finish one of the umpteen non-fiction stuff that I've bought since I've had the money to do so :D
Its a superlative work on world history and the work and thought and research that has gone into this cult-ish book defies imagination. Jared Diamond has made it seem so easy to have done the work he has.
Jared has taken pains to establish the overwhelming influence of environment in who we are today and what we are today.
Reviews @ Amazon
As it is, I think this book has come at the threshold of a time in which us humans no longer depend on environments to shape our futures. Maybe we do. But the influence of the environment has become less and less a shaping factor and this era is an inflexion point where it ceases to be overwhelming. Yet it certainly doesn't take away that our respective environments have been the defining causative bringing us to this threshold in the first place.
There would've been a million .. billion ways we could've reached this threshold and even more ways that we never might've!! These thoughts blow away the mind. I might as well have read the seminal historic 13th Century BC work "Guns Germs and Steel" on a holographic nano-book on my way to Sirius by a historian Jared Diamond(Its is generally agreed that if it were not for the Catholic Church induced dark/middle ages, our history would've been fast forwarded by at least 8 centuries) or been a policeman speaking Mandarin in a gangster capitalist Chinese world looking for Khoisian African communists who follow the work !xobile or spitting a fowl over fire in my leather undies...
But for accidents of geography, climate and local biology and to a lesser extent accidents of personality like Octavian who created the Roman Empire as we know it, Christ who created the most popular of religions, Muhammad who created a hugely popular alternative to Christ's, Copernicus who first stood up to the insecure and barbaric Catholic Church and created the spark of scientific temper that changed the world and delivered Europe from the dark ages, Columbus who by sheer enterprise made the world round, Newton who provided us with unified calculus which was seemingly useless until the 19th century showed its true potential, Marx who thought way ahead of his time and changed the history of the world by penning an ideal, Qin Shi Huang who unified China with an iron grip and made the Middle Kingdom look inward and thus effectively nixed what could've been the Chinese world than the English world ...etc.. so much of our world's history would've been different!
Jared also demolishes so many fondly held myths along the way... the principal of which is that of European or Eurasian superiority.
I've added this to the list of stuff that my kids HAVE to read (when I have them that is :D) along with both of Nehru's works and The Hindu :D