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Jared Diamond

Born Jared Mason Diamond
10 September 1937 (1937-09-10) (age 72)
Boston, Massachusetts
Residence United States
Citizenship American
Fields Physiology
Evolutionary Biology
Institutions University of California, Los Angeles
Alma mater Harvard College
Cambridge University
Notable awards Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science (1997)
Royal Society Prize for Science Books (1992, 1998 & 2006)
Pulitzer Prize (1998)
National Medal of Science (1999)

Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA. He is best known for the award-winning popular science books The Third Chimpanzee; Guns, Germs, and Steel; and Collapse.



Diamond was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Polish-Jewish family. His father was the physician Louis K. Diamond, and his mother a teacher, musician, and linguist. He attended the Roxbury Latin School, earning his A.B. degree from Harvard College in 1958, and his Ph.D. in physiology and membrane biophysics from the University of Cambridge in 1961.

After graduating from Cambridge, he 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 also developed a second, parallel, career in the ornithology of New Guinea, and has since undertaken numerous research projects in New Guinea and nearby islands. In his fifties, Diamond gradually developed a third career in environmental history, and become a Professor of Geography at UCLA, his current position.[1] He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Westfield State College in 2009.

He is married to Marie Diamond (née Marie Nabel Cohen), granddaughter of Polish politician Edward Werner, and has two adult sons named Josh and Max Diamond. In 1999, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. His sister Susan Diamond is a successful novelist. Her book What Goes Around has sold many copies.

Diamond also has an aptitude for languages,[2] including: English, Latin, French, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Finnish, Fore (a New Guinea language), Neo Melanesian, Indonesian, and Italian.[citation needed]


As well as scholarly books and articles in the fields of ecology and ornithology, Diamond is the author of a number of popular science books, which are known for combining sources from a variety of fields other than those he has formally studied.

The first of these, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1991), examined human evolution and its relevance to the modern world, incorporating insights from anthropology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, and linguistics. It was well-received by critics, and won the 1992 Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books[3] and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.[4] In 1997, he followed this up with Why is Sex Fun?, which focused in on the evolution of human sexuality, again borrowing from anthropology, ecology, and evolutionary biology.

His third and best known popular science book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, was published in 1997. In it, Diamond seeks to explain Eurasian hegemony throughout history. Using evidence from ecology, archaeology, genetics, linguistics, and various historical case studies, he argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies do not reflect cultural or racial differences, but rather originate in environmental differences powerfully amplified by various positive feedback loops.

As a result, the geography of the Eurasian landmass gave its human inhabitants an inherent advantage over the societies on other continents, which they were able to dominate or conquer. Although certain examples in the book, and its alleged environmental determinism, have been criticised, it became a best-seller, and received numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, an Aventis Prize for Science Books[3] (Diamond's second), and the 1997 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. A television documentary based on the book was produced by the National Geographic Society in 2005.

Diamond's most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), examines a range of past civilizations in an attempt to identify why they either collapsed or succeeded, and considers what contemporary societies can learn from these historical examples. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he argues against traditional culture-historical explanations for the failure of past societies, and instead focuses on ecological factors. Among the societies he considers 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.

While not as successful as Guns, Germs and Steel, Collapse was again both critically acclaimed and subject to accusations of environmental determinism and specific inaccuracies. "Collapse" was the third book written by Diamond that was nominated for Royal Society Prize for Science Books (previously known as the Rhône-Poulenc and Aventis Prize)[3] but this time he did not win the prize, losing out to David Bodanis's "Electric Universe".

Vengeance Is Ours controversy

On 21 April 2009, Henep Isum Mandingo and Hup Daniel Wemp of Papua New Guinea filed a $10 million USD defamation lawsuit against Diamond over a New Yorker magazine article titled Vengeance Is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even? The article is an account of feuds and vengeance killings among tribes in the New Guinea highlands which Mandingo and Wemp claim have been misrepresented and embellished by Diamond.[5] The lawsuit came in the wake of an investigation by Rhonda Roland Shearer which highlighted factual inaccuracies in the article, most notably the fact that Mandingo, the alleged target of the feud who was rendered wheelchair-bound in the fighting, is fit and healthy.[6]

Diamond and the New Yorker stand by the article. They maintain that it is a faithful account of the story related to Diamond by Wemp while they worked together in 2001 and in a formal interview in 2006, based on "detailed notes", and that both Diamond and the magazine did all they reasonably could to verify the story. Furthermore they claim that in a taped interview between Wemp and a New Yorker fact-checker, Wemp failed to raise any significant objections. Pauline Wiessner, an expert on tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea, points out that young men often exaggerate or make up entirely their exploits in tribal warfare, and that Diamond was naïve to accept and publish Wemp's stories at face value.[7]

Selected publications


  • 1972 Avifauna of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea, Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, No. 12, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 438.[1]
  • 1975 M. L. Cody and J. M. Diamond, eds. Ecology and Evolution of Communities. Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • 1979 J. M. Diamond and M. LeCroy. Birds of Karkar and Bagabag Islands, New Guinea. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 164:469–531
  • 1984 J. M. Diamond. The Avifaunas of Rennell and Bellona Islands. The Natural History of Rennell Islands, British Solomon Islands 8:127–168
  • 1986 J. M. Diamond and T. J. Case. eds. Community Ecology. Harper and Row, New York
  • 1986 B. Beehler, T. Pratt, D. Zimmerman, H. Bell, B. Finch, J. M. Diamond, and J. Coe. Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press,Princeton
  • 1992 The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, ISBN 0-060-98403-1
  • 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
  • 2001 The Birds of Northern Melanesia: Speciation, Ecology, & Biogeography (with Ernst Mayr), ISBN 0-195-14170-9
  • 2003 Guns, Germs, and Steel Reader's Companion, ISBN 1-586-63863-7.
  • 2005 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking Books. ISBN 1-586-63863-7.
  • 2006 [re-release] The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-060-84550-3.
  • 2010 Natural Experiments of History (with James A. Robinson). ISBN 0674035577 ISBN 978-0674035577



Awards and honors

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Prize Winner, 1998". Expo-Cosmos. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  2. ^ Whitton, Felix (2 February 2009). "Jared Diamond". Conservation Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Prize for Science Books previous winners and shortlists". Royal Society. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b "Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – Book Prizes – Winners by Award (science)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  5. ^ Maull, Samuel (April 22, 2009). "Author Jared Diamond sued for libel". AP News. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  6. ^ Shearer, Rhonda Roland (21 April 2009). "JARED DIAMOND’S FACTUAL COLLAPSE: New Yorker Mag’s Papua New Guinea Revenge Tale Untrue…Tribal Members Angry, Want Justice". Stinky Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  7. ^ Baltar, Michael (15 May 2009). "‘Vengeance’ Bites Back At Jared Diamond". Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 324 (5929): 872–874. doi:10.1126/science.324_872. ISSN 1095-9203. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond (born 10 September 1937) is an American evolutionary biologist, physiologist, biogeographer and nonfiction author. He is best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997).


  • History, as well as life itself, is complicated; neither life nor history is an enterprise for those who seek simplicity and consistency.
    • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), p. 349
  • People often ask, "What is the single most important environmental/population problem facing the world today?" A flip answer would be, "The single most important problem is our misguided focus on identifying the single most important problem!"
    • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), p. 498
  • Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping their outcomes towards success or failure: long-term planning, and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection, we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.
    • On the fates of past societies facing problems of sustainability, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), p. 522
  • All this is not to deny that Watt, Edison, the Wright brothers, Morse, and Whitney made big improvements and thereby increased or inaugurated commercial success. The form of the invention eventually adopted might have been somewhat different without the recognized inventor's contribution. But the question for our purpose is whether the broad pattern of world history would have been altered significantly if some genius inventor had not been born at a particular place and time. The answer is clear: there has never been such a person. All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 245

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Jared Diamond

Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American author and scientist. He is famous for writing a book named Guns, Germs, and Steel, which in 1997 won a Pulitzer Prize.



Diamond was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was a doctor and his mother was a teacher. He received his college degree from Harvard University in 1958, and then he received a doctorate degree from the University of Cambridge in 1961.

In 1966, he became a teacher at UCLA, a university in Los Angeles, California. He has also traveled to some islands called New Guinea, which are far away from the United States, in the South Pacific Ocean. Diamond is famous for knowing a lot about the birds that lived on that island, and he has traveled there many times.


Diamond is very famous for the things that he writes. He is able to write about science in ways that many people can understand, and he has written many articles for famous magazines like Discover in the United States.

He also writes books. One of his first books was called The Third Chimpanzee, which talked about the way that people evolved from monkeys, and how many things are the same between humans and monkeys.

His most famous book is Guns, Germs, and Steel. In his book, Diamond explained why he thought that different parts of the earth had people on them at different times, and why some people in some parts of the world had more science or farming than people in other parts of the world. The book went over thousands of years of human history.

In 2004, he wrote another book, called, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In this book, Diamond wrote about why he thought that some groups of people from many hundreds of years ago were able to have their groups get very big and strong, while other groups fell apart. His book talked about what people today can maybe learn from the studying the problems from history.


  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), ISBN 0-670-03337-5.
  • Guns, Germs and Steel|Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), ISBN 0-393-31755-2.
  • Why is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1997), ISBN 0-465-03127-7.
  • The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1992), ISBN 0-06-098403-1.
  • The Birds of Northern Melanesia: Speciation, Ecology, & Biogeography (with Ernst Mayr, 2001), ISBN 0-19-514170-9.
  • Avifauna of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea, Publications of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, No. 12, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 438 (1972).


  • Diamond is married to a woman named Marie. Her grandfather was an important man in the country of Poland. She also had an uncle named Raphael Kalinowski, who became a saint.


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