Steven Pinker is an intellectual of the first order. Yet all of his book are readily accessible to an educated reader (well, maybe not The Stuff of Thought, which was difficult "stuff").
The premise of this book is that violence is decreasing throughout the world. That includes all kinds of violence: murder, rape, war, genocide and even terrorism! And the decrease is evident over all time scales. Over the last 10,000 years the chances of being a victim of violence has declined dramatically. This is true for the last 1000 years, last 100 years and even the last 10 years. You might think that this is absurd from reading the headlines and listening to TV news but Pinker presents exhaustive data to prove his point. He gives us FBI reports, WHO data, government studies and scholarly studies. He also tries in every case to explain the "why" of the decrease. We have become more and more civilized over time. We also have become more sensitive to the lives and feelings of others.
Pinker is a wizard of making the difficult so easy to undersand. He not only alludes to the classics, The Bible, and academic studies, but also to pop culture. He frequently uses scenes from popular movies, TV shows, books and songs to make his point.
The reading is superb. It is neither dull nor overly dramatic. Within minutes I forgot that there was a reader and my mind was focused in on Steven Pinker's mind.
I would also highly recommend Pinker's previous tour-de-force, The Blank Slate.
I have read the first half of many of Stephen King's books. I stop reading when they turned too weird. I love his writing but not his horror and gruesome tales. This book was different. More lie a Sci Fi novel, i made it all the way thru and was sad when it was over.
Now "I'm not a crying man", to quote the narrator, Jake, but I must admit I had moist eyes at the end. King credits his son for coming up with the ending it is wonderful. I don/t want to give it away so I will not say more about it.
Terrific story. This is not my usual genre so I was a little skeptical about downloading this one. But it enthralled me the whole way through. I love the notion of the cowboy philosopher. The narrator was superb. He sounded just like he belonged on that cattle drive himself.
I have listened to both this book and "I Know This Much Is True" and I'm not sure which I like the most. The writing is so clear and beautiful. The stories are fascinating. Some might complain that the novel contains 3 or 4 separate stories and that each could have been a novella itself. But I enjoyed every minute and did not lose track of what was happening. The narration was so good I kept forgetting that this was not Wally Lamb telling his own story.
Paul Johnson always seems to have an optimistic view of our history. He writes with the pride of a new immigrant. Of course we have had some low moments, look at slavery or McCarthyism, but he looks at these as issues we have worked our way through. The narrator is a little annoying (or I would have given it 5 stars) but I found I could ignore her voice and concentrate on what she was saying
What a great book. The story is so much more detailed and interesting than I had ever imagined. It makes you want to trace out the trail for yourself. The narration is perfect for this kind of book. It is clear, easy to understand, and there is enough infection to get the points across but not so much to make it sound like a production.
This is a heart warming story. The narration is clear and not overly dramatic. The writing of the story is not exactly poetry. It did seem strange that Mortenson is the first author but the book is written in the third person. In spite of some awkward writing I still feel that this is a story well worth listening to.
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