|About the Book|
This is what happens when you take an intelligent person, and casually make a few mentions of a field of study they have no knowledge of.Mr. Diamond, NOT an anthropologist, takes Marvin Harris theory of cultural materialism and uses it to explain everything in life, history, and the current state of the world.Materialism is a way of looking at human culture which, for lack of a better way to explain it easily here, says that peoples material needs and goods determine behavior and culture. For instance Jews stopped eating pigs because it became so costly to feed pigs they themselves were starving.On the surface, materialism seems very logical. Like any theory it has to be at least somewhat probable sounding, and since people are used to thinking of life, these days, in terms of materialistic values already, Harris theory sounds logical and likely very often.But like every other time you attempt to explain everything that ever happened in the history of man with one theory, this falls desperately short of reality. Materialism is likely ONLY when coupled, sensibly, with other theories and, need I say it, actual PROOF, of which Diamond has little.As an exercise in materialist theory this book is magnificent. I would recommend this book ONLY to people in Anthropology with a great understanding of theory, less educated or unwarned people might think this book is fact rather than an exercise in speculation.As an explanation of why the world is the way it is, it is an utter and complete failure.