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The eight essays in this study reassess evidence about the plausibility of the widely accepted guns and germs theories which put forward firepower advantages and inadvertent disease importation as the two main causes of European imperial expansion overseas during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. All argue that these theories are important but oversimplified.
The effectiveness of firepower and disease impacts on specific groups of New World indigenes were always conditioned by time, place, and cultural characteristics. Long range communication control was sometimes more important. Above all, motives driving invasions and conquests were often more influential than means and methodologies.

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