The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Hardcover – 4 Oct 2011
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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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
So why only four stars? I think that the book is too long and repetitive. Is there really a need to quote from the same Paul Simon song twice, or to repeat lists of excruciating mediaeval tortures at regular intervals? Like the old preacher, Pinker tells us what he's gonna tell us, then he tells us, then he tells us what he told us.Read more ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would love it were it not for the fact that it's bloody massive, and massive books scare me as I am a moronic peon with zero attention. Read morePublished 3 months ago by I. Dransfield
Don't buy this book if you are squeamish. Unexpectedly, it includes nightmare infucing descriptions of historic cruelty to animals and the torture and execution of humans through... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Foden Wheatley
Wonderful book, full of insight and detailed reflection backed by solid evidence.Published 3 months ago by Colin Maund
I'm coming late to the party as this has been out a few years now, but I bought it two weeks ago and have just finished reading it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by A Reader
The Better Angels of our Nature describes the fall in violence over thousands of years.
For example: we have a much less chance of being caught in a vendetta or blood... Read more
Bought this book after seeing his TED talk. Very good, very thorough. Will recommend it to my friends.Published 5 months ago by peter bakker
Spent a good month chewing through this book. My favorite Steve Pinker yet. 5/5Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
A well written study with a lot of extremely thought provoking conclusionsPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Everyone should read this book. It is the ultimate good news story, That most of us are not aware of.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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