So why were Eurasians the people who ended up taking over the world? This question, though he poses a good bit more eloquently, is the one that Jared Diamond sets out to answer in this book. His approach is that of a scientist, methodical and thorough, and through this he avoids the pitfalls of racism and bias.
His main argument, which he puts forth fairly convincingly, is that Eurasians got the guns, germs and steel that helped them boss everybody else about not because the people were superior but because the environment in which they lived was. So they were able to domesticate plants and animals earlier, which allowed their population to bloom and become more complex which allowed them to support specialists to sit around and develop things like guns and written language. Some of the more interesting theories posed are why some large mammals are more domesticable than others (the Anna Karenina principle) and how a continent’s longest axis of orientation, north-south like the Americas vs. east-west like Eurasia, makes a big difference in the opportunities availbel to its people.
For the amount of ground he covers it’s a succinct book and he lays out his treatise in a methodical but surprisingly readable way. It neither flies over your head nor insults your intelligence. His tackling of such a large and potentially thorny subject is truly impressive.