The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes

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Allen Lane, 2011 - Nonviolence - 802 pages

Steven Pinker's riveting, myth-destroying new book reveals how, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades.

Given the images of conflict we see daily on our screens, can violence really have declined? And wasn't the twentieth century the most devastatingly brutal in history? Extraordinarily, however, as Steven Pinker shows, violence within and between societies - both murder and warfare - really has declined from prehistory to today. We are much less likely to die at someone else's hands than ever before.

Debunking both the idea of the 'noble savage' and a Hobbesian notion of a 'nasty, brutish and short' life, Steven Pinker argues that modernity and its cultural institutions are making us better people. He ranges over everything from art to religion, international trade to individual table manners, and shows how life has changed across the centuries and around the world - not simply through the huge benefits of organized government, but also because of the extraordinary power of progressive ideas. Why has this come about? And what does it tell us about ourselves? It takes one of the world's greatest psychologists to appreciate and explain this story, and to show us our very natures.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - etxgardener - LibraryThing

Ever the optimist, psychologist Steven Pinker posits that the world is getting better, not worse in this very long (almost 900pages) book He is certainly correct in that we no longer burn witches at ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Phil-James - LibraryThing

Although it took me a long time to read, (this is a very dense book, well written but full of examples of statistics) I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Steven Pinker proves that our world ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Steven Pinker is one of the world's leading authorities on language and the mind. His popular and highly praised books include Words and Rules, How the Mind Works, and The Language Instinct. The recipient of several major awards for his teaching and scientific research, Pinker is Peter de Florez professor of psychology in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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