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Guns, Germs, and Steel Discussion Questions

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

'Guns, Germs, and Steel' is a book that opens up a lot of discussion possibilities. Its message is interesting, well-thought-out, yet at times controversial. Get the discussion started with a few of these ideas for discussion questions.

Guns, Germs, and Steel Discussion Questions

Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel provides a compelling possible explanation as to why history played out in the lopsided way that it did. Why did Europe achieve the success it did on the world stage? It's an important question, and studying this book is a great way to start the discussion. In the end, that's what this is about: discussions about history and trying to piece together why it played out the way it did. So it's important not only to read the book, but to take part in discussions about it. Here are some possible discussion questions you can use in your classroom.

Comprehension Questions

Here are some discussion questions that concern specific terms and topics addressed in the book:

  • What is the primary question that the author is attempting to answer in this book?
  • Considering the advantages of the Fertile Crescent described in this book, according to the author, why is it that Europe was more successful than Southwest Asia?
  • Why, according to the writer, was the domestication of plants important for the development of the Fertile Crescent and Europe?
  • How does the writer address the value and role of religion?
  • How does this book explain the difference between isolation and trade/interaction between cultures?
  • What factors cause the European invasion of the Americas to be successful?
  • What is the difference between the animals found in Europe, and those found in the Americas?
  • According to the writer, what causes things to be invented? Why are things invented in some places and not others?
  • According to this book, why are some cultures more inclined to invent things than others?
  • What eight factors make a plant more likely to be domesticated?
  • What is the significance of the Polynesian Islands in justifying and explaining the theory in Guns, Germs and Steel?
  • How does the writer explain Australia's development compared to other areas?

General Theme and Conclusion Questions

Here are some discussion questions that address the overall theme, message, and conclusion of the book:

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