_Guns, Germs and Steel_ is one of those essential books that makes more sense of the world. Specifically, it address in rational terms, how it came to be that the modern world is arranged as it is where it concerns the haves and have-nots on the global scale.
The author, Jared Diamond, does so by taking an extremely long view on history, over the course of the last ten thousand plus years). From there he tries to build models and theories that predict why some societies advanced faster than others. To make a long story short, the societies that have become the contemporary first world were able to:
* Move knowledge and technology on an east-west axis, an axis that allows easy migration and translation of farming knowledge because the climate is roughly the same
* Develop immunity to epidemic diseases like small-pox that are tied to living near agriculture, thus making them less likely to get killed off by certain foreign invaders or to kill off natives as they travel to foreign lands
* Organize people into ever-large structures that can sustain invasions, research and other useful forms of specialization
Of course there’s more to it than that. It’s a great read and illuminates all sorts of topics I’d never even thought of, let alone correlated. If you, like me, seek a greater understanding of the abstracts that define the world, this is a book for you.