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Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

1997; 480 pp. $27.50. W.W. Norton.

A 13,000-year history in which biogeography?not culture, race, big ideas, great men, capital, labor, or love?channels the rise and fall of civilizations. Though less than one percent of Homo sapiens' tenure on Earth, it is the post-Ice-Age period that frames the questions we ask as well as the food we eat. Diamond is readable, comprehensive, provocative. The most important book on meso-scale history in this century.

ISBN: 0393061310

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