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I picked up this book at the library - I have always thought Rifkin was an odd author - straddling somewhere the line between public intellectual and pop-sociology - but he has been right about some trends over the years. I read the summary on the dust jacket and thought "they should fire the editor who wrote this - it doesn't make any sense". And then I started the book. The summary on the dust jacket is the author's introduction. I gave it a try but honestly he lost me in the first chapter talking about how historians focus too much on the negative and don't see the evolution of empathy. I am thinking about slavery - everything from building the pyramids to the march on Selma, WW I, WW II, the gulag, the Holocaust, Stalin's purges, the Cultural Revolution, Rwanda, Darfur ... even if you stay in only in the 20th century it is hard to find much in the way of empathy from above or below in human behavior.
The opening of the book uses a probably apocryphal story of a handful of soldiers on the Western Front singing Christmas carols across the trenches as a sign that "they chose to be human", and then went back to slaughtering each other? I don't get it and the book goes down hill from there. The empathetic human in me goes out to the poor trees that were wasted publishing this nonsense.
 

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