Jared Diamond, Pulitzer prize-winning author of the 15-year=old Germs, Guns and Steel, wrote in Thursday's newspaper: "[What the candidate said] is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it."
Diamond's seminal, wide-ranging book, which has received both lavish praise and pointed critiques, focuses on what spurred technologically advanced civilizations to emerge in some regions of the planet and not others.
In his speech, in an interpretation that has been attributed to ultrahawkish senior foreign policy adviser Dan Senor, Romney said:
Wrote Diamond:I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries. I read a number of books on the topic. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called Guns, Germs and Steel, which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.
Diamond goes on to explain what Romney missed, both in his book and that of another author Romney cited, David S. Landes.My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)
Romney has simpleton answers for everything, of course, so it is no shock that he would get this wrong, too. Not just the "culture" part but more basic things like the difference in gross domestic product between Israel and Palestinian territories that three minutes on teh Google would straighten out.
Diamond goes to the heart of matters in his closing:
Based on polls in key states, it's ever less likely that Mitt Romney will become the next president even with prodigious Republican voter suppression. But we can expect in the speeches and debates yet to come that he will continue to focus on simple and wrong explanations for a multitude of complex matters. His single-minded approach as a Bain buccaneer and the narrowness of his predatory, militaristic vision for a revitalized 21st century America mean he is determined to squander our nation's advantages and the potential of its people.Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.
HoundDog has a discussion on the subject here.