Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel became a seminal work of scholarship for me when it was released in 1997. Diamond, an volutionary biologist, posed an intriguing question: Why did the Spaniards sail to Peru and conquer the Incas and not the other way around?
His answer is complex, but basically boils down to geography, demography and luck, also known as ecological happenstance.
Guns, Germs and Steel was a bestseller and subject of a terrific PBS documentary, but Diamond has been dogged by controversy, including allegations that he is a racist.
I happen to think that much of the criticism is garden-variety peer envy, but Diamond now finds himself in some pretty deep do-do.