Guns, Germs, and Steel

629 Words3 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 hyp... ... middle of paper ... ... In conclusion, even though the theories posed by Crosby, Diamond, Jones, and Mann make different arguments about the factors that shaped the “Columbian Exchange” era have different approaches to overcoming racist history and utilize different persuasive techniques, they all highlight the unanticipated consequences of cultural and biological contact initiated by human interaction. Whether discussing malaria, tobacco, small pox, or immune systems, each historian recognizes the unanticipated changes that occur when foreign humans and environments meet. The fact that so many factors --biological, environmental, social, cultural, and economic -- have the power to destroy civilization, end wars, and even lead to slavery, illustrates how globalization and human interaction between other humans and environments can have very different outcomes than initially expected.
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