Sep 25, ISBN Oct 04, ISBN In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen.
For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, programs, gruesom punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life.
But today, Pinker shows with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened? The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives—the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away—and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail.
ISBN 13: 9780670022953
A supremely important book. It's a timely book about how and why violence has steadily decreased throughout our history, and how we can continue this trend. Recent events might make it seem like violence and terrorism are more common than ever, so it's worth understanding that all violence -- even terrorism -- is actually decreasing over time.
If we understand how we are achieving this, we can continue our path towards peace. A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they've ever read.
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It's a long book, so I plan on taking a month to read it rather than two weeks. I'll add a third book in two weeks that will be a shorter read to complement this.
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Referencing the Bible, the Iliad and other historical texts, he presents body counts from previous centuries that far outdo those of the last hundred years. And this is simply scene-setting for his argument.
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Pinker even cites the decline of violent childhood games as a factor — nowadays these are deemed inappropriate, but in our past, channeling aggressive impulses in such a manner was the norm. The later chapters take on our own nature, and this is less convincing ground.
We are, he argues, wired for violence, even if we do not commit such acts. He also proposes that interwoven in our character are traits that encourage us to avoid violence.