Why do some nations have so much material wealth while so many others have so little? This was the question Jared Diamond posed in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel. After identifying a point in time when all societies were roughly equal (over 13,000 years ago), Diamond identified the key variables that allowed some societies to develop highly complex, material-rich societies, while others developed at much slower rates. This is a fascinating meta-narrative about global development that is a must read for anybody who truly wants to understand global inequality.
Diamond’s book was also made into a 3 hour long documentary by PBS. The entire video can be watched in low-res at google videos (embedded below) and the companion website can be accessed at http://www.pbs.org/gunsgermssteel/