Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
Excellent read that builds a solid case for why we are living in safer times than ever before. Pinker starts from the Old Testament stories of extreme carnage through the Middle Ages to modern times and builds on the dynamics he calls our better angels that have lead to a civil society throughout the world. Obviously we are not living in a utopian world bu far safer than the good old days.
Better listened to than read. So, ok, it went over my head at times, and the audio version does not come with the charts and tables, but these are minor and not even annoying. The fact is that it kept me coming back because I always knew there was more that I would find interesting, that would make me glad I stuck with it. There was always another moment when I'd say to myself, yes, this is worth coming back to.
The narration is perfect. I could believe it was the author speaking to me. Without sounding like a Harvard professor, he sounded like someone I can like. It would be all scholarly-like for a while and then I’d hear a quote from Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen or my personal Woodstock favorites, Country Joe and the Fish. There were also plenty of references to current pop culture but I just don’t remember them as much as those from my boomer culture.
I don’t think I would have appreciated this book in my twenties but after many discussions and disagreements over the question of where our society is headed, are we getting better or worse, I love that Steven Pinker has done the work for me. Because I have always believed it in my heart, I accept his research as the confirmation.
I give the audio version only 4 stars because (1) it lacks a downloadable file for charts and tables. (2) being such a long listen, I often had to switch devices and struggled to find my place more than once because of the different chapter counts between devices, and (3) I would so love an index and table of contents.
I am considering buying a print or eBook version to reread sections that were particularly enlightening. A very satisfying experience, it will not be my last from Steven Pinker.
Science and philosophy buff
It's optimistic message
How the Brain Works and The Blank Slate - Steven Pinker brings the lessons of these two previous books together in this tome and comes to some interesting conclusions.
The narration was fine
I would have liked too but Pinker is long winded so it isn't really practical
Not for the squeamish, some of the descriptions of torture and execution methods are nightmarish and could disturb sensitive readers. Over all a great book.
Extensive use of scientific research.
The 1960's and 70's were a recent peak in violence.
Civilization and mankind are advancing.
How many times have I heard "What is the world coming too" with the perception that violence, crime and atrocities are out of control. This book successfully concludes through history, statistics and examples that we are now living in the least violent time period in history. Very well documented without becoming tedious. Very good read. Once you read this book you will find many times to appear brilliant when someone tries to complain about how violence is taking over.
Pinker does an amazing job weaving together ideas from extremely far ranging fields of psychology, sociology, and biology to present a case that whatever our future in terms of peace and war, statistics would have it that we are progressing towards a more peaceful existence. I found the ideas of humanism and religion to be most compelling and interesting. Will probably give this one another listen as there is lots of information to take in.
Retired. Have been listening to book since 1977.
Steven Pinker is one of the foremost thinkers of this era. This book demonstrates his ability to synthesize so many disciplines to write this remarkable book.
While the topic could be interesting, the way this book is written and read is a non-drug cure for insomnia.
"A Concise History of the Middle East, Ninth Edition", "Power, Faith, and Fantasy", Don Quixote, 1434 or The Prince
Audible carries a large number of books narrated by Arthur Morey. From the number and genres of the writings I must assume that he has done well with them. But, until this tome I had not been exposed to him. Perhaps the author, editor or publisher instructed him to read in a monotone – I don’t know. But, I do know that I kept finding myself dozing off or waking up from his rendition of this text.
If sure that there were some passages or concepts that could be considered "Redeeming Values", but I must have slept through them.
I'd recommend a rewrite - a total rewrite
Pinker's take on the reduction of violence, backed up with a good statistical backing, is heartening. Understanding the history of violence lets us better interpret the new we receive about the world around us.
Thirty-six hours of fixed attention became a meditation that laid out the world I live in and who the liberal I am is. I am more ready than ever to live it.