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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Written by Steven Pinker

Narrated by Arthur Morey


The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Written by Steven Pinker

Narrated by Arthur Morey

ratings:
4.5/5 (156 ratings)
Length:
36 hours
Released:
Oct 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781455839605
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

See past violent headlines…

Bill Gates dubbed this “the most inspiring book I’ve ever read,” and with good reason. Throw all your presumptions about the prevalence of violence today, about the seeming decay of culture in this day and age, and much more out the window. Pinker’s book will help you traverse today’s media and political climates and will compel you to tear down the partisan barriers we’ve built through kind means.

Description

We've all asked, "What is the world coming to?" But we seldom ask, "How bad was the world in the past?" In this startling new book, the bestselling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era yet.

Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: the genocides in the Old Testament and crucifixions in the New; the gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm; the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals.

Now the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse-all substantially down.

How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed?

Pinker argues that the key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.

Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature. This gripping audiobook is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.

This updated edition include bonus reference material provided as a PDF.

Released:
Oct 4, 2011
ISBN:
9781455839605
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

One of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World Today," Steven Pinker is the author of seven books, including How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate—both Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners of the William James Book Award. He is an award-winning researcher and teacher, and a frequent contributor to Time and the New York Times.



Reviews

What people think about The Better Angels of Our Nature

4.5
156 ratings / 45 Reviews
What did you think?
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Critic reviews

  • Bill Gates dubbed this "the most inspiring book I've ever read," and with good reason. Throw all your presumptions about the prevalence of violence today, about the seeming decay of culture in this day and age, and much more out the window. Pinker's book will help you traverse today's media and political climates and will compel you to tear down the partisan barriers we've built through kind means.

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    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 went on and on - and got way too bogged down in statistical niceties for my taste. And the editing wasn't particularly good either, in the ebook version I was reading.
  • (5/5)
    Another brilliant read from a wise old professor.
  • (5/5)
    This is another one of the masterpieces in the analysis of centuries of historical data on par with Sapiens and Guns Germs and Steel. It is a liberating work of considerable depth. It opens one’s eyes to the huge progress made and to the potential for huge progress still. It falls short on one count: western progress came at the expense of the less developed societies it exploited in the process of colonization. To date, the regime of rights that has quashed violence in western societies has not yet been extended to the developing world. Until that followup arrives, this superb audio production of a masterwork is very much worth the listen.
  • (5/5)

    This is one of the greatest books I have read in my life or that have ever been written.
    It is impossible to overstate the light it brings to any reasoning individual as to the progress humanity has brought upon it by and what has really given us the privilege to live in this era, and the hopes it brings for the future of humanity.
    I give a great THANKS to the great Professor Steven Pinker for the immense effort he made to give us and all the world such precious and clear guides for what is worth figthing for. It is a great legacy for which all of us who had the fortune to read it should be thankful.
    A great congratulations, please read Enlightment Now by same author. We hope to read more wisdom from you soon!
  • (5/5)
    Well written, precise and eye opening. A must read in my opinion.
  • (5/5)
    An outstanding case for modernity, free exchange, and civilization itself.