In Guns, Germs, And Steel, author Jared Diamond uses environmental and geographical determinism to explain why some of the world's people have advanced so much more than the rest of the world's peoples. His basic thesis is that environmental differences, not biological differences, led to the sometimes extreme differences in the world's societies. I am going to argue that Guns, Germs, And Steel is a comparative history, and that Diamond successfully argued his thesis.
There are four main themes, or differences, that Diamond discusses in Guns, Germs, And Steel: differences in plant and animal species available for domestication, rates of diffusion and migration within continents, rates of diffusion and migration between continents, and the different demographics of the continents. Diamond argues that it is these four important differences that led to the superiority of mainly the European culture over the rest of the world, but he does not lay this out until the epilogue of the book. It is much more subtle in the chapters that these are the major points that he is iterating. He begins by discussing the anatomy and migration patterns of the earliest humans on earth, and then moves on to the extinction of the Australian/ New Guinean animals. Although it is not apparent in the initial glimpse at the chapter, Diamond is setting up the reader for his theory. He then goes on to compare the extinction of big game in Australia and New Guinea to that in the Americas, then talks about early tools. He is basically showing us that Africa, Australia, and New Guinea had a head start over Europe and the Americas, yet it is Europe and the Americas that have the dominant cultures today. .
Diamond uses the Polynesian Islands to give us an example of early human migration and diffusion of ideas, or the lack thereof. He also uses the Polynesian Islands to give an example of how the extinction of big game caused the separate islands to evolve so differently, even thought they had the same origins and ancestors in Australia.