The main hypothesis of the book is that humans evolved by selecting males that killed most successfully non-related humans from other groups ("outgroups"), while at the same time were most supportive and emphatic towards members of their own group ("ingroup"), which gave them a reproductive advantage.
This theory is well documented by hard data from biology, archeology, sociology and gives a concise picture of human behavior, which is applied to recent political events, such as the response to 9/11.
The authors promote the idea that empowering woman by allowing them to control the number of their children through access of contraceptives is the most effective way of war prevention.
Although their theory cannot be fully proven like models in physics or molecular biology, it is worth considering, as it explains so many aspects of human behavior.
One aspect that could have been investigated in more detail is "paternity fraud", where a woman gives a man the false impression that he is the father of her child. Several studies estimate this number to be around 10% (but there are studies with a higher and lower rate). This suggests that woman developed a strategy to escape strict male dominance and genetic traits underpinning this 'cheating' strategy will be in our current gene pool. Thus even if contraception reduces the number of humans on earth and their fight for resources, this world might not be as peaceful as the authors hope.
This book was very well written and narrated, enjoyed listening/reading to it and fully recommend it.
Hans von Luck was a career soldier who fought in France, Africa and Russia during WWII. He gives his very personal account. It is clear that he was not a Nazi, more like a conservative, very traditional german officer who felt bound by his oath to follow his orders and fight to the end. An interesting aspect of the book is his relationship and clear admiration for Erwin Rommel, who was his superior officer in Africa and France.
He describes only his personal viewpoint, and not the 'big political picture', which appears to be very honest. From his account, the superb tactical and technical training of german officers, as well as the leading (in civilian words: management) of their enlisted men was the main contributor to early war success and the resilience in the later stages of the war.
I heard one of my grand-uncles who hold the same rank in WWII speaking through his narrative, especially on how to treat subordinates and POWs.
A drawback of the book is the narrator who has a strong french accent. Some of the german phrases are hardly understandable.
Michael Lewis describes the financial crisis in different countries. The book is full of interesting anecdotes and highly entertaining. His main thesis is that you can see a people’s character when they are in a dark room full of money. This line is too simplistic. The author does not know well the culture of most of the countries he visited or speaks their language, and much of the description is thus superficial. I say this as a German who lived 1/3 of his life in the USA. For example, the better performance of Germany in the current crisis is not so much caused by the alleged ‘anal fixation or holocaust-guilt ‘of the German people, but by a political system that is less dependent on campaign donations from banks and can therefore control the financial sector a little bit better than the US or Greece.
This book gives a very good overview of the development of medicine during the transition from the middle ages to renaissance. Since it follows one person, it gives lots of colorful details that are easy to follow. I found parallels between renaissance medical establishment and today's medical practice very interesting.
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