guns germs and steel 5 paragraph essay

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Jared diamond, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

In Guns, Germs, and Steel , Jared Diamond outlines the theory of geographic determinism, the idea that the differences between societies and societal development arise primarily from geographical causes. The book is framed as a response to a question that Diamond heard from Yali , a charismatic New Guinean politician. Yali wanted to know, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo … but we black people had little cargo of our own?”—in other words, why have European societies been so militarily, economically, and technologically successful in the last 500 years, while other societies have not approached such a level of achievement?

In Part One of the book, Diamond sketches out the course of recent human history, emphasizing the differences between civilizations. Beginning about half a million years ago, the first human beings emerged in Africa, and eventually migrated around the rest of the world in search of game and other sources of food. About 11,000 years ago, certain human beings developed agriculture—a major milestone in human history. By the 15th century A.D., enormous differences had arisen between civilizations. For example, when Francisco Pizarro led a Spanish expedition to the Inca Empire in the early 16th century, he was able to defeat the Incan Emperor, Atahuallpa , easily. Why did the Europeans colonize the New World, and not the other way around?

In Part Two, Diamond talks about the dawn of agriculture and explains why it arose in certain parts of the world, but not others. Using carbon-dating technology, archaeologists have determined that the first sites of agriculture were Mesopotamia (in the Middle East), followed by Mesoamerica and China. Agriculture arose in those areas for a few reasons. Most of the human beings on the planet at the time were hunter-gatherers, meaning that they hunted game and picked nuts and berries for their food. But in the parts of the world that first developed agriculture, game and fruit were becoming scarcer, motivating experimentation with new forms of food production. In Mesopotamia, ancient humans used trial and error to learn how to plant certain large seeds in the earth, resulting in crops that could be harvested and converted into highly nutritious foods. These early peoples also learned how to domesticate wild animals, breeding familiar modern animals like dogs, cows, and horses. Humans used their domesticated animals to assist with agricultural work, while also learning how to domesticate certain wild crops, breeding most of the world’s familiar modern crops.

Agriculture arose in Mesoamerica and China. Due to environmental qualities like soil fertility, availability of domesticable animals, and availability of edible crops, however, it took a longer time for agriculture to supplant hunter-gatherer culture in most other regions. Once agriculture had arisen around the world, it spread or diffused to neighboring regions. By and large, Diamond argues, it is easier for ideas, goods, and foods to spread from east to west than it is for them to spread north and south—this is because the Earth spins east-west, meaning that areas with the same latitude share a similar climate and environment. Archaeological data indicates that agricultural innovations diffused east and west far sooner than they diffused north and south.

In Part Three, Diamond shows how basic agricultural differences between early societies magnified over time, leading to vast differences between societies’ health, technology, and social structure. First, he shows that agricultural societies developed immunities to deadly diseases like smallpox. Constant proximity to domesticated animals, combined with increased population density, meant that new germs were constantly circulating in agricultural societies. As a result, these societies became resistant to many epidemics—those who couldn’t survive died off, while those with immunities survived and passed on their immunities to their offspring.

Another important development in the history of agricultural societies was the invention of written language. While it’s difficult to show exactly why writing emerged in certain agricultural societies but not others, it’s clear that the structure of agriculture society (which requires lots of record-keeping for crops) put a high premium on a writing system. Furthermore, east-west diffusion patterns ensured that, once one society developed language, it diffused, along with agriculture itself, to surrounding areas, particularly those with similar latitude.

The history of language acts as a case study for the history of technology in general. While it’s again difficult to explain why certain inventors develop certain inventions, the structure of agricultural societies favored the invention of new technologies. This is true for a number of reasons. Agricultural societies lead to the creation of leisure time, since crops can be stored for long periods—in their leisure time, citizens of early agricultural societies experimented with the resources and raw materials around them. Additionally, agricultural societies were denser than hunter-gatherer societies, increasing the velocity with which people exchanged ideas. As a result, agricultural societies developed more new technologies than hunter-gatherer societies, and passed on their innovations to neighboring agricultural societies.

Ancient agricultural societies tend to develop into large, complex states. While the earliest agricultural societies were “bands” and small tribes, these small tribes gradually merged into larger and larger societies, either through conquering or mutual agreement. As societies became larger and denser, they tended to develop centralized structures of power—in other words, a central leadership that commanded a set of subordinate leaders, who in turn commanded local groups of people. States ruled through a balance of kleptocracy—i.e., leaders ordering their subjects to give up a portion of their possessions—and religion or patriotic fervor. By the 16th century—not coincidentally, the time when Europe was beginning its conquest of the New World—the state had become the dominant mode of society.

In Part Four, Diamond looks at a series of case studies that support his theory. In the first, he demonstrates that the New Guineans developed agriculture, sophisticated technology, and political centralization while the neighboring aborigines of Australia did not, due to geographic distances and factors like the ones sketched out in Part Two. He also argues that China was able to become the world’s first large, centralized state for environmental reasons—the temperate climate and homogeneous geography enabled easy communication and political unification between the states of China. The New Guineans were more successful than their neighbors, the peoples of Java and Borneo, in staving off European colonization and massacre in the 18th and 19th centuries, largely because their agricultural practices made them resistant to malaria, preventing colonists from staying for too long on their island. In the New World, agriculture arose in certain regions, but did not diffuse to neighboring regions due to the presence of geographic barriers like deserts and mountains. Finally, Diamond studies the history of Africa and argues that the Bantu peoples of North Africa were more militarily successful than their sub-Saharan neighbors because they developed some limited forms of agriculture. In the sub-Saharan environment, however, peoples didn’t have any way of developing agriculture, so their societies never had the time or organization to develop complex technologies.

In conclusion, Diamond argues, the differences between different peoples and societies of the world are largely attributable to geographic differences between different regions of the world. In certain parts of the world, humans began pursuing agriculture because the fertile soil and temperate climate made agriculture a good use of time and resources. Agricultural societies then gained tremendous advantages over non-agricultural societies, because the increase in leisure time enabled people to develop technologies and centralized political structures, and the proximity to animals gave people immunities to deadly diseases. As a result, some societies were able to conquer others.

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The Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Essay (Book Review)

The attempt by writers of the nonfiction but documentary literature genres to explore various global phenomena often responds to the claim of certain absolutism, that is, the recognition of the perfect truth of the picture of the world that the author offers. In this sense, particularly intriguing are those literary works in which the authors address the entire history of human development from the very beginning of civilizational progress. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is an illustrative example of such a book, in which Jared M. Diamond seeks to answer the fundamental question of why some nations turn out to be more progressive and developed when others have distinct disadvantages of a slower rate of development. Diamond forms the claim as he tries to present the reader with knowledge that reflects all of humanity’s causal relationships and thus could answer the fundamental question of why, for example, the United States, the UAE, and Singapore have significantly outpaced Ethiopia and Afghanistan in the level of technological, political and moral development. Perhaps an excellent demonstration of the writer’s motivation in choosing the topic was the conversation with the New Guinean politician Yali described at the beginning of the book, who asks Diamond the question, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?” (p. 14). This book review aims to examine the selected book in depth from the context of a critical analysis of the author’s thoughts aimed at attempting to answer Yali’s question.

The historical and ethnographic pretentiousness of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies should not be seen as the author’s superficial attempt to provide world truth. On the contrary, Diamond’s book proves to be carefully crafted, structured, and organized, as the writer presents nineteen chapters, each of which specifically answers the question at hand. For example, in the first chapter, Diamond discusses the very beginnings of civilization, which took place thirteen thousand years ago, and refers to the reader to ancient Africa as the birthplace of all humanity (p. 37). At the same time, in chapter fourteen, the author attempts to answer the question of the development of religion and the legal system (p. 165). Although most of Diamond’s ideas and thoughts are not supported by sources and footnotes, he cites a great deal of graphic and illustrative material, as well as references to archaeological and anthropological evidence, which encourages the reader to be convinced of the writer’s authority. In other words, Diamond’s book should not be regarded as fiction or provocative material designed only to increase sales, but instead is practically a textbook on the historical and cultural development of civilization. Nevertheless, the book cannot be called a real textbook since Diamond often refers the reader to his own experiences and examples of life situations, that is, he introduces subjectivity into the material (p. 85). It follows that the literary work should be seen as a carefully considered and organized attempt by the author to answer a fundamental existential question but to do so in as accessible a way as possible to a wide range of readers.

Diamond’s scrupulousness in attempting to answer Yali’s question is that the author does not present it immediately after formulating the task itself and, indeed, does not answer it directly. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is structured to show that combinations of certain factors may have been stimulating the development of one civilization, and accordingly, the scarcity of such resources was an excuse for slow progress for another. This is the thoroughness of the book, for Diamond immediately states that there is no single factor, biological or cultural, that can answer Yali’s question, but instead, the problem must be looked at comprehensively (p. 17).

The writer addresses the idea of complex determinism when he shows why one civilizational community differs from another. In stimulating development, Diamond attaches great importance to the availability of resources and postulates that it was the shift from gathering and hunting to agriculture that catalyzed development (p. 356). In this sense, the critical argument is that those regions that had more agricultural resources and wild animals suitable for domestication made a more rapid transition in development and are qualitatively different from those that had scarce opportunities. This seems to be reflected in the current economic order as well since the more technologically advanced countries often use the historical model of capitalism based on competition, cooperation, and resources. This parallels the conclusion that the model of capitalism was also valid for primitive intercommunal and inter-civilizational relations, even if there were not yet direct contacts between communities as well as states themselves.

In this sense, it is interesting to highlight some of the contradictions between the primitive community model described by Diamond and the modern capitalist state as exemplified by the United States, especially since Diamond himself does not neglect such comparisons. In particular, Diamond reports that resource-rich societies began to produce more food to meet the needs of more people and support populations, which, in turn, contributed to the development of better technology and political systems (p. 87). At the same time, The Sane Society by Erich Fromm argues that modern U.S. society (relative to the mid-twentieth century) has created a system in which surplus agricultural production is not economically viable, so the government decides to reduce production despite the millions of starving Americans (Fromm, 1990). This parallel is not coincidental: it seems that the path of civilizational development, based initially on the pursuit of human happiness and opportunity for all, has been broken. Diamond himself provides excellent corroboration of this assumption when he writes that his life in the New Guinean regions showed that despite the civilizational capabilities of developed countries (the United States), Americans lacked the compassion and support that the author received in less technologically advanced territories (p. 18). All of this leads to the idea that human progress in the developed world has not been built on a path toward absolute happiness, at least equal for all.

The thoroughness of Diamond’s book material becomes especially apparent when reading chapter four. Earlier, the author told the reader how powerful the catalyzing effect of agriculture was and how its spread helped the development of civilizational thought. In chapter four, the writer does not abandon this concept but expands it with a non-obvious idea, namely, the development of immunity: “The humans who domesticated animals were the first to fall victim to the newly evolved germs, but those humans then evolved substantial resistance to the new diseases” (p. 92). It is interesting that, as Diamond reports, being forced to do “dirty” work in the soil caused people to develop a large number of diseases, which, combined with Darwin’s evolutionary ideas, created communities resistant to such diseases (p. 124). The spread of disease as a factor in technological development was also suggested further when Diamond reported geographic location as a predictor of progress (p. 77; p. 314). In particular, the availability of maritime communication between countries at the stage of the commercial development of nations allowed them to exchange not only technology, resources, and knowledge but also diseases, which enhanced the worldwide progress of those countries that were involved in the trade routes. Thus, Diamond is characterized by the use of fundamental biological and ecological theories to explain the socio-economic development of countries, which strengthens the perception of the authoritativeness of book material. However, this thought allows one to be more critical of the differentiation of the world order into unambiguously developed and undeveloped countries. The traditional perception of Western society as progressive, especially in comparison with African regions, is violated in this case. The reason for this violation is the involvement of resource-rich African countries in world trade routes and, thus, the almost equal pace of agricultural development for both Western and African countries. This idea, expressed by Diamond, forces the reader to reflect on the stereotypical understanding of the global order and rethink previous views.

A critical analysis of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is worth elaborating on its strengths and weaknesses. A large number of illustrative examples, the author’s easy-to-understand writing style, the use of graphics, the fragmentation of the general answer to the Yali question into sections, and their logical sequence are positive aspects of this literary work. These attributes allow the reader to avoid wondering what exactly Diamond meant by a particular argument while still maintaining the overall connection of the narrative between the sections. Moreover, the author constantly refers to evidence to support his theses, which should also be seen as a strength of the book (p. 37; p. 23; p. 304). After reading it, one also gets the impression that Diamond is not biased in his ideas and is not a typical Western-centric author, so he appears to be more open to new experiences and ideas that he writes about in his book.

Despite its apparent advantages, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is not without some weaknesses. One such weakness is some of the overgeneralization to which Diamond turns in an attempt to make his arguments convincing. For example, in describing communities, species, and varieties, Diamond keeps using the words “many” and “most” but never specifies specific biological names, which can seem like a manipulative generalization to cover up inconvenient evidence: “many herd species…”, “But the vast majority of wild plants…” (p. 174; p. 121). A big issue with this book is the seeming neglect of cultural influences on the development of civilizations since Diamond dwells primarily on geographical and environmental factors, though he does touch on writing and languages. The inexperienced reader might infer from this that culture — art, film, and sculpture — had no practical value in shaping civilizational progress, which in reality, it does not. A fundamental problem with the book is also the lack of an answer to the question apparently arising from Diamond’s argument. Thus, one of the book’s main ideas is that a larger population creates opportunities for accelerated technological and civilizational progress. On this assumption, indeed, based on the evidence, India and China, as the leaders in the population, should be the absolute leaders in the development of civilization as well, but there is some contradiction in this: Diamond provides no answer to this contradiction. In turn, this may lead the reader to misunderstand the perspectives of non-European societies.

It is fair to say that the real flaws in this book do not mean that Diamond’s work was unsuccessful, biased, or unworthy of reading. Like all literature, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies has weaknesses, but it is the material that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 (Skube et al., 1998). The book provides immediate answers to the question of civilizational differences between communities but should not be seen as claiming to be the only answer. Diamond forces a reflection and reconsideration of some of the previously stable views of the world order, which reinforces the development of critical reflection. Thus, Diamond has done serious work and research, including factual research, to provide the reader with reflections on the geographic and ecological determinism of development. For this reason, the book would be useful reading for students and scholars interested in ethnographic and historical studies, as well as for all readers who would like to expand their knowledge of the process of the historical development of civilizations. Thus, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond is unequivocally recommended for reading, if only for the reason that the book allows to form a primary basis for understanding the processes of civilizational development or to evaluate the existing knowledge critically.

Diamond, J. M. (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies . W. W. Norton & Company.

Fromm, E. (1990). The sane society . Holt Paperbacks.

Skube, M., Noonan, P., and Gater Jr., H. L. (1998). Guns, germs and steel: The fates of human societies, by Jared Diamond (W.W. Norton) . The Pulitzer Prizes. Web.

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The Theme of “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Essay Example

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Jared Diamond’s book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” aims to educate us about the reasons that Eurasian civilizations have survived and managed to conquer other lands while demonstrating that this supposed dominance is not the result of any kind of superior trait such as intelligence, enhanced morality, and better genetics. In the introduction of the book, Jared Diamond states, “History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves”. Ultimately, he provided enough evidence to prove this point throughout the book, which causes the audience to agree. Different environments confer different advantages to the people who live there; the groups who are able to succeed do so out of luck as a consequence of the location they were born to. Furthermore, Yali asks, “Why do white men have so much cargo and we New Guineans have so little?” The answer to this question is simply that white men inhabited lands with a greater supply of resources; both physical materials and proximity to other groups of people allowed them to trade and acquire a greater amount of cargo over time.

Diamond begins his historical account by describing how early people lived; everyone was essentially equal to one another. Until 11,000 B.C., people on all of the continents were hunter-gathers and lived similar lifestyles. They lived in big groups for protection, assigned duties to each member of the group in order to ensure survival, inhabited similar shelters, and ate the same food. However, the end of the Ice Age brought about a diversification of environment for these groups of people; since the plants and animals they relied on during the Ice Age mostly died off during the climate change, people were forced to adapt to their new, different surroundings.

Unlike the conditions of the Ice Ace, people across the world found themselves living in environments that differed greatly from one another, and people took advantage of all the resources they had available to them in order to ensure that they would be able to survive. Since these resources were different, the difference we now see between people living in different parts of the world started to form. Diamond says, “The history of interactions among disparate peoples is what shaped the modern world through conquest, epidemics and genocide. Those collisions created reverberations that have still not died down after many centuries, and that are actively continuing in some of the world’s most troubled areas.” He argues that while some of these actions are not justifiable, they shaped the world at the time of the event and continue to do so.

Diamond argues that while intelligence sometimes accounts who survives over who dies within a society, a society cannot be considered intelligent or unintelligent as a whole because it should be defined for its own societal values. Diamond states, “telligent people are likelier than less intelligent ones to escape those causes of high mortality (murder, chronic tribal warfare, accidents, problems procuring food..) in traditional New Guinean societies. However, the differential mortality from epidemic diseases in traditional European societies had little to do with intelligence, and instead involved genetic resistance dependent on details of body chemistry”. He therefore proposes the idea that certain societies, such as New Guinea were at a disadvantage due to environment; because our environment prevented us from having access to diseases and becoming immune, European diseases have a dramatic impact on our well-being. This is one example of how environment puts us at a disadvantage; if we had a higher rate of transmittable diseases and landed on European grounds, we would then have the advantage. Diamond explains that the reason for this evolutionary disadvantage is a direct consequence of our environment; the Europeans had environmental pressure to have their genes mutate and favorable mutations allowed them to be resistant to disease. The people of New Guinea did not have this evolutionary opportunity.

As such, the reason that white men have so much cargo and we New Guineans have so little is due to our environment. Although this seems to be an oversimplified explanation, Diamond explains that our environment contributes to biological differences as a result of available food, housing, diseases, proximity to water and other land features, and climate. These factors then in turn influence trade, communication with other groups of people, and therefore, the ability to produce complex products. Because New Guinea is an island and secluded from other people, we do not have the same trade and communication advantages as the white men and therefore have less cargo.

In conclusion, Jared Diamond’s idea that history and environment of people contribute to the differences that we see among groups of people is a plausible theory. Although biological and other factors do contribute to differences, it is environment that caused these differences initially. White men are able to dominate other racial groups due to pure luck; the locations they were born in allowed them to have access to a vast amount of resources that other locations do not have. As such, New Guinea is currently at a disadvantage; however, as time passes, it is likely that is will be on the same level as the white men due to increased access to resources and immunity to illness.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel Lesson Plan

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Read Part Four: Around the World in Six Chapters.

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CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

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Guns, Germs, and Steel Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Guns, Germs, and Steel is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

In the authors opinion

"Founder crops ' is a term used by Diamond to identify the plants that other cultures adopted to become food producers, which ''enabled local people to become sedentary, and thereby increased the likelihood of local crops' evolving from wild plants...

Why do New Guineans live a good life?

I think this boils down to lack of greed and being grateful for simplicity.Diamond points out, It’s their ingenuity and their quickness to learn that have always impressed me. They can go empty-handed into some of the most difficult environments...

How does Diamond reformulate it (Yali’s question) as the main theme of the book?

Diamond concludes that from the end of the Ice Age, geography ensured that different societies around the world would develop at different speeds. If Yali's people had had all the geographic advantages of Europeans, perhaps they could have...

Study Guide for Guns, Germs, and Steel

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guns germs and steel 5 paragraph essay

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guns germs and steel 5 paragraph essay

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He starts by implying that people from stone “are on the average probably more intelligent, not less intelligent, than industrialized peoples.” he traces the folds back in history. He says New Guineans are better in there environment than Europeans but not as good with technology as the Europeans are. Chapter one of the book is called up to the starting line. Humans on this planet appeared about 4 million years ago. Around 50,000 years ago cave art had begun and that is when humans started to get smarter. They started to use watercraft and eventually found there way to Australia and New Guinea...

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I asked south dakota dog trainers about kristi noem.

The governor defends her story of killing her dog, but not everyone in her home state does.

Gov. Kristi Noem is seen standing at an appearance in National Harbor, Md., in February.

By Jess Bidgood

Deb Davenport gets it, to a point.

Davenport, the secretary of the Western South Dakota Bird Dog Club, owns seven adult hunting dogs: mostly Spinoni Italiani with whimsical names like Confetti and Partito, and one vizsla. She has been a dog trainer and dog fancier since the mid-1990s, she said.

She knows that some dogs are “wired inappropriately” and that, sometimes, for the safety of humans and other animals, it can be necessary to euthanize. She knows that not everybody turns to a vet for that task.

“Since I live in a very rural agricultural state, there are people that do that themselves with a firearm,” Davenport told me.

What she does not get, though, is the way the governor of her state, Kristi Noem, talked about shooting her dog Cricket, as well as an unnamed billy goat, in her memoir, “No Going Back,” which came out yesterday.

“I don’t know a single person that would brag about it. Most of the time they feel bad,” Davenport, a Republican, said. “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t at least be sad.”

By now, dear reader, you know about Noem’s shot heard ’round the world. It is a story that just won’t seem to die, unlike Cricket and the goat, partly because the leaks keep coming and partly because Noem herself keeps talking about it. Facing a firestorm of criticism from fellow Republicans — and the formation of a bipartisan Congressional Dog Lovers Caucus apparently intended to troll her — she has defended herself as the victim of unfair attacks from critics who don’t understand the hard choices people have to make on ranches and farms.

“Life is a little different in rural America,” Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, a Republican, told CNN .

This is not, however, how everybody in South Dakota sees it — dog, goat and human alike.

This week, I set out to see if there was something I, the owner of Rhubarb, a mild-mannered rescue dog with bear-hunting blood who lives her life softly curled up on my couch, was missing in all the backlash to Noem’s story. But when I called members of the state’s bustling bird dog community, they were just as mystified as anybody else.

The episode seems to have snuffed out what little chance she had of being named Donald Trump’s vice president (more on that later). But even at home, the story she told to make herself look tough seems to have backfired, at least in some quarters. Dog owners like Davenport were struck less by the death itself than by her spiteful description of a dog that they said she had not set up for success.

And they want to be clear: They really, truly, absolutely do not recommend people shoot their own dogs as a matter of course.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Brian Soehl, 62, of the South Dakota Hunting Dog Club, who called the outcome of Noem’s story “unusual.”

The best dogs in the world

Soehl is an independent voter who has voted for Noem. He has owned hunting dogs for years, although he is down to just one now: a wire-haired vizsla named Gage who, he freely admits, is not the winningest dog in the club. But Soehl still loves going out in the field with him.

“We have some of the best dogs in the world in this area,” Soehl said. “The people that I know, they love their dogs.”

Pheasant hunting in South Dakota, Soehl said, is a major cultural event. Opening day of the season has a festival-like atmosphere, with small towns hosting pancake breakfasts or evening suppers. And it’s fun for the dogs, too — Soehl said his have usually jumped in the car when they see his guns, excited for the good kind of adventure.

So Noem’s story has South Dakota dog trainers abuzz with gossip and technical chatter about where, exactly, she went wrong.

In a section of her book titled “Bad day to be a goat,” Noem writes about how Cricket, the roughly 14-month-old wirehaired pointer, had come to her family from a different home where there had been problems with her “aggressive personality.”

During a particularly “stressful year,” Noem wrote, she took Cricket on a hunt with her older dogs, and Cricket began chasing birds before the hunters were in range to shoot. Noem was “livid.” After the ruined hunt, she wrote, she loaded the dogs in kennels in her truck bed — but she didn’t have one for Cricket, who was allowed to ride unconfined. When Noem stopped at a neighbor’s house, Cricket rocketed out of the back of the truck and began “systematically” chomping the neighbor’s chickens to death before “trying” to bite Noem.

“I hated that dog,” Noem wrote.

A dog trainer’s perspective

Russell Nelson, a Democrat who trains and sells gun dogs at Clover Leaf Pheasant Farms in Estelline, S.D., said he was very careful to make sure the right dogs went to the right families. And, what’s more, it’s important not to let a dog who doesn’t come when called get loose.

“It was certainly her fault for putting the dog in the back of the truck and not being in a kennel,” Nelson said. “I was wondering how it got out of the vehicle and killed the chickens.”

Noem’s account has raised legal questions as well as dog-training questions. Did Noem break the law? When I called the spokesman for South Dakota’s attorney general, Marty Jackley, though, he pointed simply to the state’s seven-year statute of limitations.

“Since it happened about 20 years ago, there’s nothing we can do,” Tony Mangan, the spokesman, said. Asked if Noem might have broken the law at the time, Mangan said any answer would be “pure speculation.”

Davenport, a self-described “common sense” Republican who did not vote for Noem, said she worried her governor’s story would reflect poorly on the state’s thriving world of pheasant hunting.

“We don’t go out shooting our dogs. We don’t shoot our goats, either,” Davenport said. When a dog must be put down, she said, “We actually have a mobile vet out here that can come to your house.”

Confetti doesn’t like loud noises, she said, so she’s not much of a hunting dog, but she’s very social. Her youngest dog, she joked, hasn’t been trained as well as her others.

“I think he’s growing up feral,” she said. “He better hope Kristi Noem doesn’t move in next door.”

A waning shot at veep

Noem’s future on the 2024 national stage is starting to look about as promising as Cricket’s future on the show-dog circuit. I asked my colleague Michael Bender , who is covering Trump’s veep search, to tell us more.

How has the story of Cricket landed in Trump World?

Trump World is looking for solutions to an already-pretty-lengthy list of crises facing the campaign, not more problems. No one around Trump wants to be answering questions about Kristi Noem, let alone questions about Kristi Noem and her puppy and her goat and her gravel pit.

How serious of a contender for vice president has Noem really been? And how has this shaped her odds?

Noem was always a long shot for Trump’s ticket. He has been impressed by Noem — she was an outspoken, young Republican member of Congress who easily won headlines. But in recent years, her star has dimmed a bit. She has alienated a number of Republicans over a long career. And she’s hitched her wagon to Corey Lewandowski, who is an adviser to Trump who is in and out of the former president’s orbit, and has his own list of enemies.

That said, one of the truisms of Trump World is that you’re never completely out unless you want to be out. Trump loves a redemption narrative, loves when people beg him for forgiveness. But it’s hard to see how a presidential candidate already losing an incredible amount of time to four criminal cases would want to give any thought to explaining the untimely end of Cricket.

Jess Bidgood is a managing correspondent for The Times and writes the On Politics newsletter, a guide to the 2024 election and beyond. More about Jess Bidgood

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Literary Criticism — Guns germs and steel


Guns Germs and Steel

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