The paper “The World According to Jared Diamond by McNeill" is a great example of a book review on history. Whereas McNeill accepts some of Diamond’s arguments, his objections to the rest of his arguments are pertinent. McNeill prefaces his commentary on Diamond’s work with admiration for its unique exposition of the role of biogeographic factors and environmental inheritance in shaping the economic standing of some continents and societies. Diamond’s holistic inquiry of human experience and optimism for a science of history are acceptable to McNeill. Diamond’s overemphasis on the role of geography in shaping history is McNeill’s primary contention with Diamond’s arguments. \
Diamond’s arguments acceptable to McNeill
McNeill accepts Diamond’s claim that biogeographic factors and environmental bestowal of a place are important to its economic wealth and power. He conquers that the potential of a place to support the domestication of both animals and plants is an example of such a factor. Actually, places such as Mesopotamia attracted massive migration due to their environmental endowment and this accrued economic gains1. There is no doubt such endowments give regions advantages over those that are lacking in them. Darwinian perception of the survival for the fittest is endorsed this claim.
McNeill’s praise for Diamond’s holistic perception of human experience demonstrates his awe for Diamond’s deviation from a mere mainstream inductive study of history. According to McNeill, whereas many historians will be inclined to seeking the inherent meaning of a text, Diamond stands out because his account brings in knowledge from outside of history. Another point of consensus between McNeill and Diamond is the idea that historical inquiry can be scientific. Scientists from physical and chemical sciences account for the occurrence of certain phenomena by trying to combine different variables under similar conditions and assesses whether this combination is the causes of the said phenomena2. In the same way, historians can investigate whether certain variables such as time and geographical conditions that prevailed in certain times in history were the causes of the existing condition of a place or region.
McNeill’s objections to Diamond’s arguments
McNeill objects to Diamond’s implication that Eurasia has had an impact that is more important in world history than Europe. Whereas McNeill concedes the fact that Eurasia was endowed with both domesticable species and geography that enhanced the spread of these species, he believes that these endowments were not solely responsible for the formidability that originated from the region. The propensity of a region to cause major patterns in the world is underlined by much more than its geography. It is noteworthy that McNeill thinks it is considerably illogical to credit short-lived phenomena such as cultural and political splendor to more long-lasting phenomena such as the topography of a place3.