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.
Gotta say I have been trying to get through this book for some time, am glad I finished it. Has been tough going with all the horrific details of past practices. Don't know which is more amazing the attitudes of the past or the present. Despite the liberal bend it is pretty well balanced and an incredible history lesson of stuff you didn't learn in school. Agree with other reviewers this is most important trend regarding human kind that you never heard of! A must listen for anyone interested in history, sociology, criminal science, etc. Great narration!
Learned a lot but perhaps also too many anecdotes, so I should have had the abridge version.
The book had some good and interesting information, but it was way too long and had too many statistics.
I would have condensed it.
Basic, ok, adequate.
I had to break up the book by listening to about 3 hours and then switching books for a while before going back to it. Many times I considered not finishing it.
Steven Pinker provides great insights backed with data. The points are well structured and argued. The book is written in a very easy to understand language - no surprise that it comes from an expert in language. Arthur Morey's narration of the book makes the book come alive in the minds of the reader.
Because it was presented in a manner that made listening to the telling of events that still leave questions in my mind an enjoyable experience. The most interesting thing I learned is that though cataclysmic events in recent history are not comparable to those in early human history.
Stephen Pinker meticulously presents convincing evidence that violence has progressively and systematically declined throughout human history. He carefully addresses multiple categories of human violence and illustrates his thesis with meticulously researched statistics. Pinker also puts forth explanations for the observed reduction in the violent nature of human society. This book is an antidote to the pessimism and sensationalism of the media. It is an uplifting look at how far our species has evolved. This is one of the best books I have read. It is hard work but well worth the effort.
I wanted to be uplifted by this book, but it had a weird effect of being quite depressing- the author spent a lot of time describing medieval torture and "justice" techniques (in order to prove things are getting better)...but it was so harrowing I couldn't listen to it. Ditto to the chapter on the treatment of animals, I listened for five minutes and then thought that I dont need those images cluttering up my mind. The reading is quite good, but a little on the monotone end. In general it was quite dull - long discussions (cogently argued) about how life was much tougher and more violent in the past - I found the argument convincing, but a bit of an overkill. I think I was hampered by the slightly monotone delivery of the reader, as much as by the confronting nature of some of the material.
My feeling is that this is a book you should buy and read in print. That way you could skim over the harrowing bits (if you are squeamish) and really concentrate your attention on the bits of information or argument that were useful to you. I do NOT recommend you buy this to listen to while driving, when you may not have the option of making it stop before you become distressed - or drive off the road.
Yes, as there is so much to learn about ourselves as humans and the result is so hopeful.
There were so many, almost every study described was an enlightenment.
His voice and diction.
Civilization comes to middle-age and maturity.
Pinker's analysis of the state of violence in society is thorough. Every time I had a "but what about such-and-such!" moment, he would counter my protest at some point in the book, leaving me, for the most part, satisfied with the completeness of his analysis. His tone is convincing but not biased; often I felt as though I was not sure which "side" he was on as he earnestly tried to report the facts and flaws of each argument and analysis. He takes you on a journey through the history of human violence and leads you gracefully to some possible answers to a very important question (perhaps the most important question); why has violence declined and how can we keep it low or even lower? After reading the book, I was left with a feeling of hope and optimism that has stuck with me as well as a better understanding of what policies I can support to help reduce violence in my community.