Guns, Germs and Steel (2005– )

TV Series  -  Documentary | History
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 702 users  
Reviews: 18 user

A PBS documentary concerning Jared Diamond's theory on why there is such disparity between those who have advanced technology and those who still live primitively. He argues it is due to ... See full summary »

0Check in

Watch Now

on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 27 titles
created 14 Apr 2012
a list of 44 titles
created 28 Jun 2012
a list of 25 titles
created 10 Jul 2013
a list of 24 titles
created 14 Aug 2013
a list of 49 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Guns, Germs and Steel (2005– )

Guns, Germs and Steel (2005– ) on IMDb 7.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Guns, Germs and Steel.







Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Civilisation (TV Series 1969)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
Stars: Kenneth Clark, Nicholas Blake, William Devlin
Animation | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Alloy is given the glimpse of the future and the only way for this madness to end is to collapse the universe and began again. Witness the waking, the rebirth, and the future.

Director: Michael Boydstun
Stars: Val Carpenter
How Art Made the World (TV Series 2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Stars: Nigel Spivey, Dominic Ffytche, James David Lewis-Williams
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A rapid-fire history of our world, from the beginning of time as we know it to present day. This two-hour CGI-driven special delves into the key turning points: the formation of earth, ... See full summary »

Director: Douglas Cohen
Stars: Corey Burton, Alexei Vladimir Filippenko, Peter Ward
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Andrew Marr's History of the World is a 2012 BBC documentary television series presented by Andrew Marr that covers 70,000 years of world history from the beginning of human civilisation, ... See full summary »

Stars: Andrew Marr, Pierre Marais, Aubrey Shelton
The Incredible Human Journey (TV Series 2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

This series explains the evidence for the theory of early human migrations out of Africa and subsequently around the world, supporting the Out of Africa Theory.

Stars: Alice Roberts, Robert Bednarik, Sandford Bigplume
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The modern suburbs have ultimately become an unsustainable way of living. They were originally developed in an era of cheap oil, when the automobile became the center of the way people ... See full summary »

Director: Gregory Greene
Stars: Barrie Zwicker, James Howard Kunstler, Peter Calthorpe
The Story of Science (TV Mini-Series 2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Stars: Michael J. Mosley, Robert W. Allan, Marlon Beale
The Century of the Self (TV Mini-Series 2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

A documentary about the rise of psychoanalysis as a powerfull mean of persuasion for both governments and corporations.

Stars: Martin Bergmann, Ann Bernays, Edward Bernays
How the Earth Changed History (TV Mini-Series 2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In each episode, geologist Iain Stewart describes how a certain geological force played a determinant part in human history. Culture may render people less dependent on nature, it still ... See full summary »

Stars: Iain Stewart, Ali Haleyalur
The Private Life of Plants (TV Series 1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  

David Attenborough's study of the world of plants, which demonstrates, with the aid of time-lapse photography, the rich and varied ways in which they flourish.

Stars: David Attenborough
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

National Geographic follows a hypothetical team of scientists in the year 2210 as they set out to learn what led to the collapse of our present day society in this theoretical look into the future.

Director: Noel Dockstader
Stars: Ricardo Agurcia, Jared Diamond, Jamie Effros


Series cast summary:
 Narrator (3 episodes, 2005)
Jared Diamond ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 2005)


A PBS documentary concerning Jared Diamond's theory on why there is such disparity between those who have advanced technology and those who still live primitively. He argues it is due to the acquisition of guns and steel and the changes brought about by germs. Written by bzb2001

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Official Sites:



Release Date:

11 July 2005 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Where's the cargo? (For the answer: See James Burke's "Connections")
17 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If you are in an anthropology class and get an essay question on the final, and you don't answer the question, what sort of grade will you get?

The question "Guns, Germs and Steel" purportedly set out to answer was: "Why do white people have so much cargo, but we New Guineans have so little?"

"Cargo" originally referred to the manufactured goods brought in on cargo planes, and became a general term to describe all sorts of stuff, including pens, paper, radios, factory made clothes, books, boxes of cornflakes, fertilizer, cars, etc. So the question is why Western countries make more manufactured products than under-developed countries like New Guinea.

GG&S instead talks about how, beginning some 10,000 years ago, various agricultural techniques, crops and animals contributed to the development of more advanced, complex civilizations. Diamond doesn't say whether he took an introductory cultural anthropology course, but if he had, he would have probably learned about this; the theory has been around for at least 40 years.

He then talks about why Western countries were able to conquer and colonize the Americas and much of Asia: Because of superior weapons and, incidentally, germs that killed people in these new regions by the millions. OK, got it. But when the Europeans arrived, they weren't bringing tons of cargo in their small sailing ships, beyond that needed to do a little bartering.

The "cargo" comes much later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and has little to do with agrarian practices, and much to do with the industrial and scientific revolution that was born in Europe. So to answer the New Guinean's question, Diamond should have explained the origins of science and technology, and its applications in industrial and factory production, including the assembly line.

But why did this scientific and technological revolution occur in Europe, when the Middle East, China, and ancient Greece and Rome had at least some science and technology that just sort of petered out?

Diamond doesn't say.

He does say that he thinks the New Guineans and the people of other under developed countries are as intelligent as people in developed countries. I agree with this; there is absolutely no link between genetics of groups and IQ. What you do have is a vast difference in education and knowledge.

Europeans found a way to, in a sense, pool individual intelligence and knowledge. A vital step was the creation by Queen Elizabeth at the suggestion of Sir Francis Bacon of the first government supported and funded scientific societies. These societies enabled scientists to share and critique each others' work, and to publish these findings for anyone to read, a truly revolutionary idea.

This not only spurred further scientific research that spanned generations, but made it possible for any common person with common sense to apply these scientific principles to technological innovation and produce a product that could make them rich. Throw in mass produced books, newspapers and journals by movable type printing presses, patent protection, and a free market with economic mobility, and you got "progress," a self-propelling growth of new ideas, new technology and commerce. This is where the "cargo" comes from.

Why didn't regions like China, India or the Muslim Middle East create "progress"? In part, because they valued tradition and stability more highly. Another reason is because they value the social group more highly than the individual; Europe placed more value on individual non- conformity. This is why these regions still lack self-generating progress (much of China's "progress" comes from industrial espionage, theft of intellectual property and general plagiarism).

If you want to learn where the "cargo" came from, what you really need to watch (and read - the documentary is the key work, but he talks very fast) is James Burke's "Connections," a true work of genius. I have read a fair amount about the history of science, and I can tell you that I have never seen anything like what Burke's account. Sure, he relies on the historical work of others, but he shows the chance, non-linear connections between science and technology, step by step, and why they occurred. (It's available on Youtube.)

For these connections to occur, there needed to be a culture that encouraged the sharing and expansion of knowledge. That's what was different about Europe over the past 500 years from every other region of the world in all other eras of history. You can't explain that by guns, germs and steel.

So if this were Jared Diamond's essay test in cultural anthropology, he would deserve a C minus, for not answering the question. There is far too much redundancy, with the second and third episodes spending far too much time recapitulating the previous episodes -- padding the program. It is also short on originality over what social scientists already knew, though there do appear to be some original ideas. But it is still worth watching, puts those ideas together in a novel way, and provides a perspective on the history of the world that many people will find interesting, especially high school students.

10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Guns, Germs and Steel (2005) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: