Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond
This book is a pretty thorough historical account of the rise of human societies and how they became so diverse. Diamonds’ argument is that the differences are not due to race but to geographical segregation. Using an arsenal of anthropological discoveries as a solid baseline for deducing probable causes, specific reasons he has cited for this diversity include: the enhanced efficacy of communication through language and writing; advancements in the evolution of food production and domesticating livestock; resilience to crowd-infecting germs and diseases; and the advancement of technology and weapons.
One interesting little tidbit I learned in this book folks may find interesting was the origin of the QWERTY keyboard layout; originally typewriters had an easier arrangement of the keys, but it was SO easy the old typewriters were getting jammed from the speed of the typists. The solution was to rearrange the letters, and place the most commonly used letters on the left side to slow down right-handed typists. This QWERTY key arrangement was so quickly adopted as the standard for secretarial and clerical work, that all subsequent attempts over the next 60 years to modify it have failed! So that’s why we are stuck with QWERTY.
This is the proverbial tip of the iceberg on what I learned from this very informative and well presented work by Jared Diamond. He is becoming one of my preferred non-fiction writers, and I am now looking forward to checking out some of his opther work (perhaps “The Third Chimpanzee” will be my next Diamond adventure…).