While in Israel earlier this week, Mitt Romney stated to considerable controversy that the great disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians was attributable to “cultural differences.” As books that informed his opinion on this he cited “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David S. Landes and “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.
Mr. Diamond took to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times today to dispute Mr. Romney’s interpretation of his book, writing
It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.” That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.
Diamond goes on to explain the theory of economic development he was espousing in his book. If you haven’t read the book, check out today’s article which presents a concise summary of the book and also serves as a pretty good reminder that the world is a complex place that defies simple explanation.