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How did Europeans prevail in conquering the so-called New World and beyond? For several years scholars have seen an answer to that question in the “Guns, Germs, and Steel” theories of experts like Jared Diamond; namely, that because of superior technology and the introduction of catastrophic disease into the Americas, Europeans succeeded in conquering and colonizing the indigenous peoples. But other historians, including the experts in this volume, think the “Guns and Germs” theories too facile and oversimplified. Noted military historian George Raudzens assembles an international team of scholars in Technology, Disease, and Colonial Conquests, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries to look at the other side of the coin. The “conquered” may actually have had superior technology, including better communication and transportation; and the effects of disease were equally devastating upon the invaders and the invaded. Myriad factors not explained by the Guns and Germs theories contributed to the success of European colonization. This volume keeps an open mind to those.

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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.

This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details.