The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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Penguin, Oct 4, 2011 - Psychology - 832 pages
26 Reviews
“If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this—the most inspiring book I've ever read."
Bill Gates (May, 2017)

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year


The author of the forthcoming Enlightenment Now (February 2018) and The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millenia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, programs, gruesom punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the esesnce of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives--the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away--and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.  
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

I feel as though I've been stuck in this book for weeks. It's undoubtedly interesting and, in many ways, reassuring, but I really wish it hadn't been quite so long. The chapter on war, particularly ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DLMorrese - LibraryThing

Has the human condition gotten better over time? In this book, Steven Pinker argues that it has, mainly by showing how dreadful it was in the past. People still intentionally inflict unspeakable harm ... Read full review

Contents

Praise for Steven Pinkers THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE
A FOREIGN COUNTRY
THE LONG PEACE
THE RIGHTS REVOLUTIONS
BETTER ANGELS
NOTES
INDEX
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.

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