888 Casa Kim
Unicorn St, Rainbow Town
May 14, 2015
Department of Geography
University of California, Los Angeles
1255 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1524
Dear Mr. Diamond,
Hello, I’m a twelve year old boy writing to praise your book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. For my science class I had to read a book and write a letter to the author. I chose Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I’m glad I did. I was originally torn between Cosmos, and your book. Although I have an interest in astronomy, I eventually chose Guns, Germs, and Steel. Mainly because the question of Europe’s industrialization had been nagging at me for awhile. How come Eurasia was able to create vast colonial empires while The Americas was still stuck in the stone age? I was hoping your book would provide the answers. I wasn’t disappointed.
My favorite part by far, was when you discussed food production. I always knew food was important (well, that much is obvious), but I never knew how important it truly was. It hadn’t occurred to me the important role that large mammals played in the birth of Civilizations. By providing large quantities of meat, labor, war machines etc. For example when you discussed how all the big mammals in the Americas and Australia became extinct in the ice age; which meant the Aboriginal Australians and the Native Americans weren’t able to create communities large enough to allow for full time bureaucrats. And not having densely nutritious crops to feed large communities; allowing them to gather and have specialized workers and professional soldiers. I didn’t comprehend how much livestock and domesticated crops contributed to centralized governments and states, until I read your book.
The book altered my perspective of Native Australians. Before I read this book, I didn’t understand or know much about the them. I knew about the European colonial empires, but I never understood why Europe was the one who possessed those colonies, instead of the Australians or the Native Americans. After you explained how Australia’s climate couldn’t support crops, and how all the large mammals were wiped out in the ice age. It helped to answer my aching questions.
I appreciated your use of personal experiences as an example to illustrate your points. It helped me to visualize what you’re saying. For instance when you described the time you landed a helicopter in front of a tribe, and they glanced over and looked away. It brought to life your point about some groups resisting technology, and some groups embracing it. Especially in comparison to that other tribe who embraced it. Another example I enjoyed was when you wanted to hike inland, and you had to turn back because you ran out of water. It helped to give me an idea of how dry Australia’s climate really is. I really appreciated that you supported your text with personal experiences.
Reading your book answered a lot of my questions, but now I have even more questions that I want to ask you. For instance, what was the role of the Chinese in Oceania? I’m not sure if their ships were advanced enough, but couldn’t they have sailed and colonized Australia? And did the ancient nomadic hunters from the ice age really have the manpower to hunt all the large mammals in the Americas and Australia into extinction? Another one of my burning questions is why did the Australians dispose of the bow and arrow? I know you talked about how some societies dispose of new technology, but why did the Aboriginals dispose of theirs? Did it become useless? Wouldn’t at least one tribe kept it? I wonder if Australia had at least one cereal and one large mammal, would they have evolved from hunters gatherers to an industrialized colonial empire without European influence?
Anyway, thank you so much for writing this book, I really enjoyed reading it! I know the book was written awhile ago, but I hope you continue writing amazing books like this.