Change your perceptions.
Pinker wove a powerful history together that shatters the perception that violence is increasing. He also carefully explores what factors lead to violence giving an optimistic view of what has and still can be accomplished to achieve peace. Although you have to commit to a book like this it will be rewarded. There are few new ideas out there and most books tend to add a little new research and reuse and repackage what we have already heard. This book is a bold, fresh, well written and read masterpiece that will not only present a new way of looking at the world, but will make it your new way of looking at the world.
The topic is quite interesting and this is a good book for someone who is a scholar of this subject. There are lots of statistics and research cited. I found it interesting to know that people track these stats. However, it was way more depth than I wanted to know. I would have appreciated an abridged version. I got the info I wanted to know from the preface and summary chapter at the end. I skipped through the book to listen to segments I had a special interest in. Turns out I knew more about this subject than I thought I did before I listened to this book.
Much of the information of this book is readily available via other sources. People who seriously study historical trends will probably not be shocked by Pinker's conclusions. That being said he has done a great job in gathering the information together in a single volume and presented it in original and dramatic style.
Our view of the world is based on the information we are given. If we are told, over and over again, that we live in a violent and terrible world, then we tend to believe it at face value. But to try and objectively determine how violent our world is, as shown in this book, is a big problem, but not an impossible one.
The decline of violence is one of the long historical trends in the history of man. But since humans live such pitifully short lives they are condemned not to see it or fully appreciate it.
Personally, I think I couldn't bear to read it all in print. Thankfully, audiobook format came to my rescue. This title is much easier to listen to, than to read.
The most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.
Overall, a fascinating listen! Highly recommended! If you are not intimidated by its size, I mean! But fear not, you can always skip parts not interesting to you, as I did! :)
This book is not for everyone, especially for those that do not want to delve into great detail. But it is a very powerful explanation for multiple changes going on in our society.
The author gives a tour de force of multiple aspects of violence: war, insurrection, terrorism, and toward women, children, and even animals. He makes a well-backed argument that all forms of violence have declined over time. Of course, there are numerous statistics to illustrate the claims, but the book does not get bogged down in that. It remains interesting and engaging.
Many days I told people I know, "You know what I learned today..." The portrayal of our development was just so astonishing in many ways. Pinker brings in history, biology, cognitive and developmental psychology, religion, and many other disclipines.
The narration felt so natural and authoritative that I felt that Pinker himself was reading his own work. This is a book I will listen to again.
this is a very important book, and amazingly well-researched.
the breadth and depth of the research is astounding; the arguments are well-grounded in history, logic, and statistics; and the author is always careful not to overstate his conclusions.
Many other reviews highlight this book's strengths, which are considerable, but there is another side. A few of the revealing details:
1) Pinker's grotesque and malignant caricature of religion in general and Christianity in particular acknowledges no positives whatsoever and exaggerates historical negatives.
2) He rationalizes abortion as not violence in one part, but treats it as violence in another context where females are disproportionately selected for termination. Well, which is it?
3) Not one, but two star turns for the odious Peter Singer.
4) A social science based argument that liberals are smart and conservatives are stupid.
Over and above these points, the book is almost suffocatingly smug in its aggressive left/progressive/secular/atheist ideology, which is unnecessary for the main point but helps drive its bulk. Arthur Morey's reading superbly conveys this complacence.
Extremely detailed research, laid out in a thoughtful and balanced manner. Pinker's case is something I've personally long believed, so I must be wary of some confirmation bias in reviewing the book. However, even if you already open to his case, I believe this would still be an interesting and pleasurable experience.
Some parts are quite graphic, but they are integral to the point that Prof. Pinker is making. This is one of those books, like The Omnivore's Dilemma, that makes you stop and reassess how you interpret the world around you. All of Pinker's arguments are well defended and seem obvious in retrospect, thanks to the clear layout of this book.
This a powerfully fascinating book where Pinker shows, with very thorough evidence, that human nature has changed for the better over the centuries. In short, Pinker will prove to you how we have, if still incompletely depending on culture and region, become more peaceful, just and civilization after a fashion. In that, the author gives a detailed look at the history of violence in society that will make you blanch at the bloody antics done by our ancestors and the psychological research trying to explain it. Just hear the reader read out how medieval people found
I was heartened for at least one element of the human race, even while I wanted to give those sadists in the past a taste of their own medicine.