Why were those societies the ones that became disproportionately powerful and innovative?
Note: The key idea/question to be answered here.
“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.”
Note: The book's key idea.
From books, the Spaniards knew of many contemporary civilizations remote from Europe, and about several thousand years of European history. Pizarro explicitly modeled his ambush of Atahuallpa on the successful strategy of Cortés. In short, literacy made the Spaniards heirs to a huge body of knowledge about human behavior and history. By contrast, not only did Atahuallpa have no conception of the Spaniards themselves, and no personal experience of any other invaders from overseas, but he also had not even heard (or read) of similar threats to anyone else, anywhere else, anytime previously in history....
Note: The key role of writing.
Of the first eight significant crops to have been domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, all were selfers. Of the three selfer cereals among them—einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, and barley—the wheats offered the additional advantage of a high protein content, 8–14 percent. In contrast, the most important cereal crops of eastern Asia and of the New World—rice and corn, respectively—had a lower protein content that posed significant nutritional problems.
Note: Luck