|AP World History Summer Assignment #1 – Guns, Germs, and Steel*
I. Reading Assignment
The concept of AP World History is to focus on the big ideas, concepts, themes, and trends of history. Instead of focusing on minor events and occurrences, we will focus on the big ideas that have shaped world history and our world today. To get your mind thinking in this direction, as you read Guns, Germs and Steel you will create a written and illustrated summary of the "Big Ideas” for each chapter you read.
Format for “Big Ideas”
For each assigned chapter, including prologue and epilogue, summarize AND illustrate the big ideas. One page per chapter is sufficient. For the illustrations, you can use your own artwork, symbols, collage-type cutouts or computer printouts. Words can be melded into the art in any way you choose. Some chapters may have more artwork, some may have more words – get the main idea so it makes sense to you. Make sure the words are your own. Evidence of plagiarism will result in a grade of ZERO for this project.
Focus on the big ideas and don't get bogged down in the science, unless you are really interested. One way to practice getting the main idea is to verbally explain the main idea to someone after each chapter.
Read 5 of the following 9 chapters in the book:
Prologue Yali’s Question
Ch. 1: Up to the Starting Line
Ch. 2: A Natural Experiment of History
Ch. 4: Farmer Power
Ch. 6: To Farm or Not to Farm
Ch. 9: Zebras, Unhappy Marriages, and the Anna Karenina Principle
Ch. 10: Spacious Skies and Titled Axes
Ch. 11: Lethal Gift of Livestock
Ch. 12: Blueprints and Borrowed Letters
Ch. 13: Necessity’s Mother
Choose one chapter to read from 15 through the Epilogue.
Feel free to read the rest of the book if you’d like, but you are not required to do summaries for those extra chapters.
II. Post-reading Assignment
After reading the book, answer five of the following questions.
1. What question is Jared Diamond trying to answer?
2. What is his thesis?
3. Is he successful in supporting his thesis? Why or why not? To what extent? Are particular
chapters stronger than others? Are any chapters particularly problematic?
4. Do you agree with this theory? Why or why not?
5. What would be Jared Diamond's definition of world history?
6. How has Diamond's book affected your thinking about world history?
7. Is Guns, Germs, and Steel the best title for this book? What title would you give to this book?
Explain your answer.
8. Would you recommend this book? To whom? Why or why not?
9. Share any other reactions, thoughts, or questions you have.
This is due in class the first day of school.