2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An outstanding book.,
This review is from: The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes (Hardcover)I can see why some reviewers carp about Pinker not being entirely accurate in the lessons he derives from a specific field or example. He draws from such an extraordinarily wide range of subject matter - history, neuroscience, statistics, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, literature etc. etc., the list goes on and on - it is inevitable that people who have one of these as a specialist subject might think they know better. Whether they do or not is a different matter, and whether those differences are material is different again. I'm sure there are areas where Pinker goes too far, but the sheer weight of evidence he adduces is so impressive that a few overstatements don't undermine the argument.
This is a very long book, but it never gets turgid. Pinker writes lightly, with humour and wit. Some of the areas he explores are technically complex(at least to a non-scientist such as me) but he makes them comprehensible and their role in the analysis clear and persuasive.
I started the book as a believer in the decline of violence - I'm sure anyone with a grasp of history must do so - but I had no idea of its degree and the various ways in which it can be evaluated. Pinker's analysis of the causes of the decline - the better angels - is thorough, entertaining and completely convincing. I could write much more in praise of the quality of the analysis, but this has already been done, and much better than I could, by other reviewers.
If you are reading these reviews to determine whether it's worth spending the money and time to read this book, let me add my voice to the many others here who thoroughly recommend it. I have learnt a tremendous amount from this book, and it has to some extent changed the way I look at the world.