The Better Angels of Our Nature

The Better Angels of Our Nature : The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes

4.18 (19,986 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

This riveting, myth-destroying book reveals how, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades. Can violence really have declined? The images of conflict we see daily on our screens from around the world suggest this is an almost obscene claim to be making. Extraordinarily, however, Steven Pinker shows violence within and between societies - both murder and warfare - really has declined from prehistory to today. We are much less likely to die at someone else's hands than ever before. Even the horrific carnage of the last century, when compared to the dangers of pre-state societies, is part of this trend.

Debunking both the idea of the 'noble savage' and an over-simplistic Hobbesian notion of a 'nasty, brutish and short' life, Steven Pinker argues that modernity and its cultural institutions are actually making us better people. He ranges over everything from art to religion, international trade to individual table manners, and shows how life has changed across the centuries and around the world - not simply through the huge benefits of organized government, but also because of the extraordinary power of progressive ideas. Why has this come about? And what does it tell us about ourselves? It takes one of the world's greatest psychologists to have the ambition and the breadth of understanding to appreciate and explain this story, to show us our very natures.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 832 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 52mm | 1,355g
  • ALLEN LANE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1846140935
  • 9781846140938
  • 195,368

Review quote

Brilliant, mind-altering...Everyone should read this astonishing book -- David Runciman * Guardian * A supremely important book. To have command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement. Pinker convincingly demonstrates that there has been a dramatic decline in violence, and he is persuasive about the causes of that decline -- Peter Singer * New York Times * [A] sweeping new review of the history of human violence...[Pinker has] the kind of academic superbrain that can translate otherwise impenetrable statistics into a meaningful narrative of human behaviour...impeccable scholarship -- Tony Allen-Mills * Sunday Times * Written in Pinker's distinctively entertaining and clear personal style...a marvellous synthesis of science, history and storytelling -- Clive Cookson * Financial Times * A salutary reality-check...Better Angels is itself a great liberal landmark -- Marek Kohn * Independent * Pinker's scholarhsip is astounding...flawless...masterful -- Joanna Bourke * The Times * Selected by the New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011 * New York Times *
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About Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is one of the world's most influential thinkers and writers on the human condition. His popular and highly praised books include The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching, books, and scientific research, Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He also writes frequently for The New York Times, the Guardian and other publications. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine's "The World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today."
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Rating details

19,986 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 48% (9,613)
4 32% (6,347)
3 13% (2,666)
2 4% (844)
1 3% (516)
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