Guns, Germs, And Steel Essay

624 words - 3 pages

Alfred Crosby, Jared Diamond, David Jones, and Charles Mann use contradictory theories to analyze the components of disease, geography and environment and their impact on the era known as the “Columbian Exchange.” Although each historian reaches different conclusions about the particular environmental factors that most affected the New World’s society, culture, and economy, they all emphasize the unpredictable nature of cultural and biological contact while underscoring the influence of human interaction with the environment.
Although they differ, Crosby, Diamond, Jones, and Mann each attempt to retell and reanalyze the impact of the “Columbian Exchange” that is not shaped by the traditional glorification of the white, European male. Specifically, while Crosby argues that disease was the primary agent that allowed European colonists to conquer the natives of the New World, Jones discusses how the environment, politics, and social factors contributed to the devastation caused by Native Americans’ exposure to diseases. Diamond deduces that geography determines the prosperity of a particular society and credits the success of a society with available agriculture and domesticable animals, while Mann writes about the unintended biological effects, particularly from malaria and tobacco, which boosted the homogenocene. Each theory exemplifies how human interaction between “old” and “new” environments produced multitudes of unforeseeable consequences such as disease and invasive plant and animal species. In addition to illustrating how human contact with new climates and cultures had the power to shape history, these theories also attempt to provide alternative historical narratives free from traditional racial constructs. Crosby hypothesizes that European domination over Native Americans resulted from disease rather than intellectual or technological superiority. By linking prosperity to geography and inferring that societal success depends on the luck of location, Diamond also moves away from racist narratives. Mann also refutes racist history by challenging the traditional portrait of the competent European colonist and by suggesting that African slaves possessed...

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