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The Better Angels of Our Nature The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes by Steven Pinker
  

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

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Synopsis

The Better Angels of Our Nature The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes by Steven Pinker

This riveting, myth-destroying book reveals how, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millenia and decades. Can violence really have declined? The images of conflict we see daily on our screens from around the world suggest this is an almost obscene claim to be making. Extraordinarily, however, 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. Even the horrific carnage of the last century, when compared to the dangers of pre-state societies, is part of this trend. Debunking both the idea of the 'noble savage' and an over-simplistic Hobbesian notion of a 'nasty, brutish and short' life, Steven Pinker argues that modernity and its cultural institutions are actually 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 have the ambition and the breadth of understanding to appreciate and explain this story, to show us our very natures.

Reviews

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


About the Author

Steven Pinker has made a glittering career for himself since he left Montreal as a young man; studying and then teaching at Harvard, Stanford and finally the Michigan Institute of Technology. He has won a number of prizes and awards, including being made a Doctor of Science honoris causa, McGill University, 1999 and the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in the same year. He is acknowledged as the natural successor to Noam Chomsky in linguistics and a leading authority on the science of the mind.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th October 2011

Author

Steven Pinker

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Author's Website

stevenpinker.com/

Publisher

Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd

Format

Hardback
832 pages

Categories

Social & cultural history
Violence in society
Warfare & defence
Psychology

ISBN

9781846140938

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