|Born||Jared Mason Diamond
September 10, 1937
|Institutions||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Thesis||Concentrating activity of the gall-bladder (1961)|
Jared Mason Diamond (born on September 10, 1937) is an American scientist and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991), Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize), Collapse (2005) and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond's work is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography, and evolutionary biology. As of 2013, he is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has been described as "America’s best-known geographer".
Early life and education
Diamond was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Jewish parents. His father, Louis K. Diamond, was a physician, and his mother, Flora Kaplan, a teacher, linguist, and concert pianist. Diamond himself began studying piano at age six; years later he would propose to his wife after playing the Brahms Intermezzo in A minor for her. He attended the Roxbury Latin School and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1958 and a PhD on the physiology and biophysics of membranes in the gall bladder from Trinity College, University of Cambridge in 1961.
After graduating from Cambridge, Diamond returned to Harvard as a Junior Fellow until 1965, and, in 1968, became Professor of Physiology at UCLA Medical School. While in his twenties he developed a second, parallel, career in ornithology and ecology, specialising in New Guinea and nearby islands. Later, in his fifties, Diamond developed a third career in environmental history and became Professor of Geography at UCLA, his current[update] position. He won the National Medal of Science in 1999 and Westfield State University granted him an honorary doctorate in 2009.
Diamond originally specialized in salt absorption in the gall bladder. He has also published scholarly works in the fields of ecology and ornithology, but is arguably best known for authoring a number of popular-science books combining topics from diverse fields other than those he has formally studied. Because of this diversity Diamond has been described as a polymath.
Diamond's first popular book, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991), examined human evolution and its relevance to the modern world, incorporating evidence from anthropology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, and linguistics. The book traced how humans evolved to be so different from animals, despite sharing over 98% of our DNA with our closest animal relatives, the chimpanzees. The book also examined the animal origins of language, art, agriculture, smoking and drug use, and other apparently uniquely human attributes. It was well received by critics and won the 1992 Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
His second and best known popular science book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was published in 1997. It asked why Eurasian peoples conquered or displaced Native Americans, Australians, and Africans, instead of vice versa. It argued that this outcome was not due to biological advantages of Eurasian peoples themselves, but instead due to features of the Eurasian continent: in particular, due to its high diversity of wild plant and animal species suitable for domestication, and to its east/west major axis that favored the spread of those domesticates and people and technologies for long distances without much change in latitude. The first part of the book was concerned with reasons why only a few species of wild plants and animals proved suitable for domestication. The second part discussed how local food production based on those domesticates then led to local development of dense and stratified human populations, writing, centralized political organization, and epidemic infectious diseases. The third part then compared the development of food production and of human societies between different continents or world regions. Guns, Germs, and Steel became an international best-seller, was translated into 33 languages, and received several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, an Aventis Prize for Science Books and the 1997 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. A television documentary series based on the book was produced by the National Geographic Society in 2005.
Also in 1997, Diamond published his third (and shortest) book, Why is Sex Fun?. It discussed evolutionary factors underlying features of human sexuality that are generally taken for granted, but that are highly unusual among our animal relatives. Those features include a long-term pair relationship (marriage), coexistence of economically cooperating pairs within a shared communal territory, provision of parental care by fathers as well as by mothers, having sex in private rather than in public, concealed ovulation, female sexual receptivity encompassing most of the menstrual cycle (including days of infertility), female but not male menopause, and distinctive secondary sexual characteristics.
Diamond's next book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, published in 2005, examined a range of past societies in an attempt to identify why they either collapsed or continued to thrive, and considers what contemporary societies can learn from these historical examples. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he argued against explanations for the failure of past societies based primarily on cultural factors, instead focusing on ecology. Among the societies mentioned in the book are the Norse and Inuit of Greenland, the Maya, the Anasazi, the indigenous people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Japan, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and modern Montana. The book concluded by asking why some societies make disastrous decisions, how big businesses affect the environment, what are our principal environmental problems today, and what individuals can do about those problems. Like Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse was translated into dozens of languages, became an international best-seller, and was the basis of a television documentary produced by the National Geographic Society. It was also nominated for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books.
In 2008, Diamond published an article in The New Yorker entitled Vengeance Is Ours, describing the role of revenge in tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea. A year later two indigenous people mentioned in the article filed a lawsuit against Diamond and The New Yorker claiming the article defamed them. In 2013, The Observer reported that the lawsuit "was withdrawn by mutual consent after the sudden death of their lawyer."
In 2010, Diamond co-edited (with James Robinson) Natural Experiments of History, a collection of seven case studies illustrating the multidisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of history that he advocates. The book’s title stems from the fact that one cannot study history by the preferred methods of the laboratory sciences, i.e. by manipulative controlled experiments comparing replicated human societies as if they were test tubes of bacteria. Instead, one has to resort to natural experiments in which human societies similar in many respects have been historically perturbed by different starting conditions or else by different impacts. The book’s afterword classifies natural experiments, discusses the practical difficulties of studying them, and offers suggestions how to address those difficulties.
Diamond's most recent book, The World Until Yesterday, published in 2012, asks what the western world can learn from traditional societies. It surveys 39 traditional small-scale societies of farmers and hunter/gatherers, organized in tribes or bands, with respect to how they deal with universal human problems. The problems discussed include dividing space, resolving disputes, bringing up children, treatment of elders, dealing with dangers, formulating religions, learning multiple languages, and remaining healthy. The book suggests that some practices of traditional societies could be usefully adopted in the modern industrial world today, either by individuals or else by society as a whole.
- 1972: "Avifauna of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea", ISBN 9781877973222
- 1992: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, ISBN 0-06-098403-1
- 1997: Why is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality, ISBN 0-465-03127-7
- 1997: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-06131-0
- 2003: Guns, Germs, and Steel Reader's Companion, ISBN 1-58663-863-7.
- 2005: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-303655-6.
- 2010: Natural Experiments of History (with James A. Robinson). ISBN 0-674-03557-7 ISBN 978-0674035577
- 2012: The World until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? ISBN 978-0713998986.
Articles and book chapters
- Diamond, J. M.; Keegan, W. F. (1984). "Anthropology: Supertramps at sea". Nature 311 (5988): 704–705. PMID 6436714.
- Diamond, J. M. (1986). "Molecular biology: Why do disused proteins become genetically lost or repressed?". Nature 321 (6070): 565–566. doi:10.1038/321565a0. PMID 3520338.
- Cohen, M. M.; Diamond, J. M. (1986). "Medical research: Are we losing the war on cancer?". Nature 323 (6088): 488–489. doi:10.1038/323488a0. PMID 3762700.
- Diamond, J. M. (1987). "Survival in extreme isolation". Nature 325 (6103): 394. doi:10.1038/325394a0. PMID 3808038.
- Diamond, J. M.; Rotter, J. I. (1987). "Observing the founder effect in human evolution". Nature 329 (6135): 105–106. doi:10.1038/329105a0. PMID 3627251.
- Rotter, J. I.; Diamond, J. M. (1987). "What maintains the frequencies of human genetic diseases?". Nature 329 (6137): 289–290. doi:10.1038/329289a0. PMID 3114647.
- The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race (May 1987) Discover pp. 64–66
- Curse and Blessing of the Ghetto (March 1991) Discover, pp. 60–66
- Diamond, Jared (1993 Nov.). "Who are the Jews?". Natural History (USA: (magazine)) 102 (11): 12–19. ISSN 0028-0712. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Race Without Color (November 1994) Discover
- The Curse of QWERTY (April 1997) Discover
- Kinship With The Stars (May 1997) Discover
- Japanese Roots (June 1998) Discover
- Diamond, J. M. (2000). "Talk of cannibalism". Nature 407 (6800): 25–26. doi:10.1038/35024175. PMID 10993054.
- What’s Your Consumption Factor? (January 2, 2008) The New York Times
- Vengeance is Ours (April 2008) The New Yorker
- Diamond, Jared (2011). "Why do some societies make disastrous decisions?". In John Brockman. Culture: leading scientists explore civilizations, art, networks, reputation, and the on-line revolution. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-202313-1.
- That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer, The New York Times, January 29, 2013, page D1
- Editorial board of the Skeptic Magazine, a publication of The Skeptics Society
- Member of the American Philosophical Society
- Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Member of the National Academy of Sciences
- US regional director of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF/World Wildlife Fund)
Awards and honors
- 1975 Distinguished Achievement Award, American Gastroenterological Association
- 1985 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant
- 1989 Archie F. Carr Medal
- 1992 Tanner Lecturer, University of Utah
- 1992 Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books for The Third Chimpanzee
- 1992 Los Angeles Times Science Book Prize
- 1993 Zoological Society of San Diego Conservation Medal
- 1997 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Prize for Guns, Germs and Steel
- 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Guns, Germs and Steel
- 1998 California Book Awards, Gold Medal in nonfiction for Guns, Germs and Steel
- 1998 Aventis Prize for Science Books for Guns, Germs and Steel
- 1998 International Cosmos Prize
- 1998 Elliott Coues Award, American Ornithologists Union
- 1999 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction
- 1999 National Medal of Science
- 2001 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
- 2002 Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science
- 2005 Elected Honorary Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge, England
- 2006 Royal Society Prize for Science Books for Collapse (shortlisted)
- 2006 Dickson Prize in Science
- 2008 PhD Honoris Causa at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
- 2013 Wolf Prize in Agriculture
- "Jim Al-Khalili talks to Jared Diamond about his journey from the gall bladder to global history via a passion for the birds of Papua New Guinea.". Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
- http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21569005-americas-best-known-geographer-shows-what-there-learn-early-man-no-beating Traditional societies: No beating about the bush
- Jared Diamond in conversation with Michael Berkeley on the BBC Radio 3 program Private Passions (broadcast 3 March 2013)
- Diamond, Jared (1961). Concentrating activity of the gall-bladder (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
- "The Prize Winner, 1998". Expo-Cosmos. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- National Science Foundation – The President's National Medal of Science
- Radio interview by NPR
- Diamond, J.; Bishop, K. D.; Gilardi, J. D. (2008). "Geophagy in New Guinea birds". Ibis 141 (2): 181. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1999.tb07540.x.
- http://www.abc.net.au/animals/human_stars.htm Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- "Rapa Nui déjà vu". The Economist. October 8, 2009.
- "Prize for Science Books previous winners and shortlists". Royal Society. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – Book Prizes – Winners by Award (science)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "1997 Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award". Phi Beta Kappa. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
- Lovgren, Stefan (6 July 2005). "'Guns, Germs and Steel': Jared Diamond on Geography as Power". National Geographic News. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- "Guns, Germs & Steel: The Show". PBS. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
- Demenocal, Peter B.; Cook, Edward R., eds. (December 2005). "Perspectives on Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". Current Anthropology. CA Forum on Anthropology in Public 46 (supplement): S91–S99. doi:10.2307/3597146. ISSN 0011-3204. JSTOR 3597146.(subscription required)
- McAnany, P.A. & Yoffee, N. (Eds) (2010). Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire. Cambridge University Press.
- Diamond, Jared (2008-04-21). "Vengeance Is Ours". Annals of Anthropology. p. 74.(subscription required)
- Balter, M. (2009). "'Vengeance' Bites Back at Jared Diamond". Science 324 (5929): 872–874. doi:10.1126/science.324_872. PMID 19443760.
- Maull, Samuel (April 22, 2009). "Author Jared Diamond sued for libel". AP News. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- Smillie, Dirk (19 October 2009). "Fresh Legal Jab At 'The New Yorker'". Forbes. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- McKie, Robin (January 5, 2013). "Jared Diamond: what we can learn from tribal life". The Observer. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "Natural Experiments of History – Jared Diamond, James A. Robinson". Harvard University Press. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
- Radio interview with Jim Al-Khalili, BBC Radio 4, series The Life Scientific, broadcast 4/12/2012
- "Distinguished Achievement Award". gastro.org. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Jared Diamond, Geographer, Explorer-in-Residence". National Geographic. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Carr is honored for activities". Gainesville Sun. April 5, 1989. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Tanner lecturer will present on Tuesday". SUU News. Southern Utah University. March 4, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "The 1998 Pulitzer Prize Winners: General Nonfiction". pulitzerprize.org. 1998. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Previous awardees". aou.org. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Schmidt, Elaine (January 30, 2000). "UCLA Physiologist Dr. Jared Diamond Wins National Medal of Science". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Honorary Fellows". Trinity College. 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Shmulovich, Michal (2 January 2013). "Seven scientists and an architect to be awarded Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
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|By Jared Diamond|
- Personal website
- Diamond's page at the UCLA Department of Geography
- UCLA Spotlight – Jared Diamond
- Edge – Jared Diamond
Lectures and talks
- Why societies collapse at TED, 2003
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, April 2007
- The Evolution of Religions at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California
- PBS – Guns, Germs and Steel (with full transcripts)
- What can we learn from traditional societies? at Royal Institution, October 2013
- Hammer Conversation with Jared Diamond and John Long, March 16, 2010
- Interview with Charlie Rose
- Interview with New Books in History