The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Hardcover – Oct 4 2011
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
"For anyone interested in human nature, the material is engrossing, and when the going gets heavy, Pinker knows how to lighten it with ironic comments and a touch of humor ... a supremely important book. To have command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement." — The New York Times Book Review
"...an extraordinary range of research ... a masterly effort." — The Wall Street Journal
" ...Better Angels is a monumental achievement. His book should make it much harder for pessimists to cling to their gloomy vision of the future. Whether war is an ancient adaptation or a pernicious cultural infection, we are learning how to overcome it." — Slate.com
About the Author
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.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Almost the first half of the book is spent discussing the evidence for how violence has declined in the form of homicides, torture, war, genocide, and terrorism. Frankly, as someone who's read a lot of anthropological accounts of violence, as well as historical accounts, I didn't need to be convinced of this. We live in a candy cake la-la land compared to just about any of our ancestors. The section on torture alone is enough to make your toes curl. Water-boarding in Gitmo was (is?) terrible, but it's a walk in the park compared to the regular torture methods of medieval Europe. Or the Mongols, Huron, Iroquois, Aztecs, etc. War, especially larger wars, have all but disappeared since WW2. For all these data, Pinker tries to offer explanations why. For example, Pinker is reluctant to give much credit to nukes for the drop in wars since WW2, but I have to disagree with him here. Nukes bring something to the table that's entirely new- Mutually Assured Destruction. They take the uncertainty out of war (e.g, Hitler's Soviet gamble) and replace it with certain death for both winner and loser. No thanks!Read more ›
It's a beautiful, massive undertaking. Throughly researched and obviously long in the making. I can imagine Steven Pinker reading through his life and an idea slowly starting to gestate. On the shoulders of giants our civilization stands, and this book is no different. Pinker has taken thoughts, research, and ideologies that have helped shape our world and drawn them together into, if nothing else, a touching premise: Violence has Declined.
This book is more than that premise, yet focused all the same. It draws from history, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, criminology, and many other disciplines. It is the nature of such a broad topic that it must. I'm more than halfway through the book right now, and if I had to offer up what it has invoked in me in a few words they would be: hopeful, thoughtful, troubling, inspiring, and all around impressed.
You can get an introduction to the book through an audio lecture by Pinker at the RSA:
Despite it seeming that violence has increased (after all, when does the news ever report on peace?), the statistics show that violence has in fact decreased in almost every way. Pinker has some interesting ideas about why that is.
The main reason according to the book is that humans are becoming more civilized by the decade -- the average murder rate sharply declining from each century to the next; the decreasing occurrence and increasing unpopularity of all major countries to war; continued progress toward a more ethical treatment of animals; etc. Basically, I agree with most of Pinker's arguments here (in the book, he uses many statistics to back up each of his claims). His observations seem to ring true for most of humanity (with the exception of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East region).
Even if you think you disagree with Pinker's premise, I'd encourage you to read the book and then decide for yourself. It's a fascinating read and one that is very accessible to the layperson.
Most recent customer reviews
Superb book, well researched, well written, persuasively argued. A welcome antidote to the usual gloom and doom.Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
Highly recommended. Especially in light of the fact that our view of the state of the world is severely jaded by the fact that journalism focuses almost exclusively on the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Brian
Right up there with "Guns, Germs and Steel" in terms of its potential for transforming one's world view. Comprehensive and scholarly. Well organized and edited. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Gina Louise
Interesting book that is a counter-point to all the doomsday over-reporting in our modern media. Everyone should read it.Published 7 months ago by Reuben
This is clearly not an easy book to read - incredible amounts of information, analysis, interpretation and judgement. Read morePublished 11 months ago by R^5
An excellent book, supported well with scientific data.Published 14 months ago by Ley Milton Davison
This has got to be one of the most important books of the last couple decades. If you've not read it yet, read it now - it's not too late for Pinker's good news!Published 15 months ago by carl mccrosky
An amazing book, which will astonish most readers with its wealth of information and analysis, supported by sophisticated statistical techniques. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jan Narveson
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Psychology & Counseling > Personality
- Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Psychology & Counseling > Social Psychology & Interactions
- Books > History > Ancient > Early Civilization
- Books > History > Historical Study > Social History
- Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Philosophy
- Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Violence in Society
- Books > Science & Math > History & Philosophy