The Better Angels of Our Nature and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 3.25 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading The Better Angels of Our Nature on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity [Paperback]

Steven Pinker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 3.90 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Tuesday, 22 April? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 6.02  
Hardcover 24.00  
Paperback 9.09  
MP3 CD, Audiobook 10.75  
Audio Download, Unabridged 22.55 or Free with Audible.co.uk 30-day free trial
Trade In this Item for up to 3.25
Trade in The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity for an Amazon.co.uk gift card of up to 3.25, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Book Description

4 Oct 2012

-Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012

This acclaimed book by Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and The Blank Slate, argues that, 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.

'One of the most important books I've read - not just this year, but ever ... For me, what's most important about The Better Angels of Our Nature are its insights into how to help achieve positive outcomes. How can we encourage a less violent, more just society, particularly for the poor? Steven Pinker shows us ways we can make those positive trajectories a little more likely. That's a contribution, not just to historical scholarship, but to the world'

Bill Gates

'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

'Pinker's scholarhsip is astounding...flawless...masterful' Joanna Bourke, The Times

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as The New York Times, Time and Slate, and is the author of six books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought.


Frequently Bought Together

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity + The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin Press Science) + How the Mind Works (Penguin Press Science)
Price For All Three: 25.87

Buy the selected items together


Product details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0141034645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141034645
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, Words and Rules, 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, Time, The New Republic, and other magazines.

Product Description

Review

One of the most important books I've read - not just this year, but ever ... For me, what's most important about The Better Angels of Our Nature are its insights into how to help achieve positive outcomes. How can we encourage a less violent, more just society, particularly for the poor? Steven Pinker shows us ways we can make those positive trajectories a little more likely. That's a contribution, not just to historical scholarship, but to the world (Bill Gates)

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)

About the Author

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003, he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as The New York Times, Time and Slate, and is the author of six books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very big and dense book, and you'll need time and energy to get the most out of it, but it's well worth the effort. Don't believe the dismissive reviews by conservative romanticists and sectarian anthropologists; they've either not read it or are incapable of persuasion. In the first half, Pinker undertakes a monumental survey of the available evidence concerning the rates of violence (war, genocide, assault, murder, judicial killing, etc.) and exclusion (slavery, disenfranchisement, discrimination, etc.) from prehistory to the present, and across most parts of the globe. The tide of statistics tells a consistent, overwhelming and frankly uplifting story of progressive and accelerating improvement. As a tiny example, homicide rates in Europe have declined steadily by 100-fold over the last seven centuries, are continuing to decline rapidly, and are estimated to have been orders of magnitude higher in earlier millennia. World Wars, industrial genocide and regional famines notwithstanding, the trend that we are all likelier - much likelier - to live socially and economically engaged lives and die naturally in our beds than were each of the preceding generations. Clearly, as we individuals age, we tend to reminisce and view the present as a nastier world than the one we grew up in. But the data just as clearly show that this is a subjective error. In the second part of the book - and indeed, previewed repeatedly during the historical section - Pinker attempts to assemble an explanation of the processes that have driven this trend. He is at pains to point out that none of his explanations suggest that the process is irreversible, and that we cannot shirk our responsibility to hand on a better world to the next generation. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Magisterial and Wonderfully Written 23 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback
Stephen Pinker has long been a writer whose works I've enjoyed. At his best, he combines an effortless command of the latest scientific research with a warm and engaging style. He is impartial when considering the evidence, but pulls no punches when it comes to spelling out the implications of the facts.

This book is Pinker at his best, and then some.

Better Angels of Our Nature examines the extra-ordinary decline in violence of every kind over the course of human history. This decline is seen in every sphere and in every timescale (notwithstanding short-term variability, of which the world wars of the 20th century were a horrific example). His hopeful claim may seem counter-intuitive to many, and so it is one Pinker evidences extensively. Along the way, he dynamites some truisms dear to ideologues across the political spectrum; including the myth of the noble savage, the supremacy of free will over the influence of society, and the notion that human nature must be intrinsically good, or intrinsically evil. The latter third of the book is then spent examining possible reasons for this decline in violence. Wonderfully, Pinker finishes without discussing the ramifications of this staggering truth. He leaves that to the reader.

Better Angels is a long book, and heavy on data. The subject material is so fascinating, however, and Pinker's prose so gripping that it never becomes dull. There are some lengthy asides, but it is difficult to begrudge Pinker these; all are relevant, and sparkle with interest. Many of other ideas touched upon are as fascinating (if not as profound) as his central thesis, and could easily fill books of their own. Pursuing his quarry, Pinker ranges not only across the landscape of political science but sociology, psychology and probability theory.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
73 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dazzling Tour de Force 16 Oct 2011
By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good news, folks. Violence has been declining. We are getting kinder and gentler as a species. That doesn't just go for us in the West. Critics who have accused Pinker of only focusing on advanced countries are mistaken. He shows the decline of violence is across the board: war, genocide, terrorism, riots, and homicide. The trend was and is led by Western Europe but wasn't and isn't confined there. It is not a uniform progress and regression has, can and will happen but just because journalists have missed it, that doesn't mean it isn't so.

Pinker has noticed it and others have, too. But for the first time we have a book that has compiled and interpreted the works of anthropologists, political scientists, historians, neuroscientists, psychologists and many others to tell a story that is as gripping as a murder-mystery, albeit one in which the mystery is why the bodies are not piling up.

It is impossible to do this book justice in a review. The argument is nuanced and works on many levels. A variety of factors account for this decline, but to summarise: humans living in a state of nature (i.e. before the state) were not necessarily brutish, but led lives that short, and led lives far likelier to be cut short by war or homicide. The rise of the state, Hobbes' Leviathan, begins a pacification process, which is achieved by imposing an impersonal system of justice on its subjects. The law of the state may be an ass, but it is a disinterested ass. It curbs vigilantism and imposes peace. Hence murder rates in England have dropped from 100 in 100,000 of the population in the 14th Century to 1 in 100,000 in the 20th. Similar drops extended to most of Western Europe and gradually to the United States.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
i was sceptical of this book thinking im not that interested in violence but like the author. i'm a couple of chapters in and already i've learned some really interesting stuff. Read more
Published 23 days ago by kats
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best
This book is incredible. There are so many fascinating topics covered by Pinker in his narrative of the decline of violence throughout history: politics, economics, psychology,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jack Kenyon
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Must Read
This is a must-read for everyone. It covers human nature perfectly and concisely. Recommended for politics, history and philosophy students.
Published 2 months ago by Drumsloot
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a long book....
but it needs to be. Pinker goes into a lot lot of detail here, there is a lot lot depth, a lot of breadth.

Many books of this length become dry and boring. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Richard F. Washington
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This is a thorough piece of research and literature from Dr. Pinker. It is very informative, I highly recommended it.
Published 2 months ago by QV
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but disagree with some of it
I cannot agree more with the main thrust of the book. As a scientist, I am always astounded at the lack of numeracy in the humanities camp. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. L. Lynch
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously interesting
Ideas spring from the page ceaselessly. It's well written and unputdownable. If you have any interest in human nature this is one book you must read.
Published 2 months ago by Pauly
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb, changed the way I see the world
Absolutely outstanding book, destroys widely held myths about noble savagery and how the world is becoming increasingly dangerous. Read more
Published 3 months ago by K. Heraty
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet to read
It was a gift for my father. I will borrow it when he has finished. So far he has read the beginning and expressed a degree of interest but sadly has gone back to the dark side and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by C.Fryett
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read. Interesting premise. Dont agree with all of his...
Agree with his overall premise but some of his arguments lack a materialist base. Very enjoyable and interesting read though!
Published 3 months ago by Humphrey
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews
ARRAY(0xb1a03838)

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback