I've been getting bored of my current selection of topics recently and have been wondering what direction to go in next. I thoroughly enjoyed researching the Iroquois and Gregor Mendel and I've been thinking about looking into why the Chinese came to America to work on the railroads in the 1800s.
In the comments of my Gregor Mendel-Iroquois post, someone left a snark suggesting I read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel (GGS). I claimed that I had read it, but in retrospect, I realize that I had not, I had only been lectured on its fantastic analysis by a friend. After looking through various websites and blogs which discuss it, I've decided to give it a quick read and post about it here.
What little research I've done on the Chinese interactions with the West prior to the 1900s has shown a parallel with the modern Islamic world. That is, both the Chinese and the Moslems believed that they were the center of the world and had nothing to learn from the Europeans. Meanwhile, the Europeans learned as much as possible from them. I wonder if the American Indians were the same way? How about the current sub-Saharan African nations?
What do you do when confronted with a civlization that is way ahead of you technologically? If I recall correctly, the Japanese took a different path and tried to learn as much as they could and as fast as they could and apply it to their own society.
Enough guessing. I need to do some reading and thinking.
Update: Thanks to a review on Amazon, I've discovered Victor Davis Hanson's book reply to GGS, Carnage and Culture. There was also a debate between the two on PBS where Victor Davis Hanson just kicks Jared Diamond's ass all over the radio dial. You can listen to the massacre here.