We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined | [Steven Pinker]

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.
Regular Price:$34.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

Evidence of a bloody history has always been around us: the genocides in the Old Testament and crucifixions in the New; the gory mutilations in Shakespeare and Grimm; the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals; the nonchalant treatment in popular culture of wife-beating, child abuse, and the extermination of native peoples. Now the decline in these brutal practices can be quantified.

With the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps, Pinker presents some astonishing numbers. Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then suddenly were targeted for abolition. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, battering, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, cruelty to animals — all substantially down.How could this have happened, if human nature has not changed? What led people to stop sacrificing children, stabbing each other at the dinner table, or burning cats and disemboweling criminals as forms of popular entertainment? Was it reading novels, cultivating table manners, fearing the police, or turning their energies to making money? Should the nuclear bomb get the Nobel Peace Prize for preventing World War III? Does rock and roll deserve the blame for the doubling of violence in the 1960s — and abortion deserve credit for the reversal in the 1990s?

Not exactly, Pinker argues. The key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence (such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism) and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.

With the panache and intellectual zeal that have made his earlier books international best sellers and literary classics, Pinker will force you to rethink your deepest beliefs about progress, modernity, and human nature. This gripping book is sure to be among the most debated of the century so far.

©2011 Steven Pinker (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1355 )
5 star
 (836)
4 star
 (310)
3 star
 (135)
2 star
 (44)
1 star
 (30)
Overall
4.4 (1113 )
5 star
 (713)
4 star
 (244)
3 star
 (100)
2 star
 (33)
1 star
 (23)
Story
4.4 (1123 )
5 star
 (643)
4 star
 (343)
3 star
 (100)
2 star
 (24)
1 star
 (13)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    D. Holtschlag 05-12-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Provides an optimistic projection of civilization"
    What made the experience of listening to The Better Angels of Our Nature the most enjoyable?

    The book provides a historical context to balance headline news accounts that too often emphasize the negative and the sensational. I would like to think that humans might be becoming at least generally less lethal to one another and the book provides reasons to think so. I purchased hard copies for family members who I thought would enjoy the arguments for progress that the author presents.


    What does Arthur Morey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Arthur Morey is likely a fine narrator, but I played the audio book at high speed because of the length of the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebekah 04-20-12
    Rebekah 04-20-12 Member Since 2011

    The best sellers page on this site makes me very sad.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    60
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Necessary reading for all humans."

    I simply cannot recommend this book enough. Objective, intelligent, scientific, and human. With a cool and steady narrative hand, Pinker accomplishes what Dawkins, whose fire is often his flaw, cannot. Necessary reading for all humans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Olsen 04-17-12
    S. Olsen 04-17-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    323
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pinker's best book!!"
    If you could sum up The Better Angels of Our Nature in three words, what would they be?

    Change your perceptions.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis C. Hall FL 04-01-12
    Phyllis C. Hall FL 04-01-12 Listener Since 2010

    Phyllis H.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    74
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting topic"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Sandy, OR, United States 03-19-12
    Scott Sandy, OR, United States 03-19-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Guaranteed to keep a conversation going"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Ivanovo, Russia 03-11-12
    Mike Ivanovo, Russia 03-11-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Fascinating Listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Better Angels of Our Nature to be better than the print version?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.


    Any additional comments?

    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! :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 03-09-12
    David Hoeilaart, Belgium 03-09-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Astonishing and important"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V.D. BEAVERCREEK, OH, United States 02-24-12
    V.D. BEAVERCREEK, OH, United States 02-24-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    71
    20
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "important, enlightening, well-researched"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M 01-18-12
    M 01-18-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating, thorough and well delivered"
    What did you love best about The Better Angels of Our Nature?

    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.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 01-15-12
    David United States 01-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very very long, and jam packed with insights"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 91-100 of 117 results PREVIOUS19101112NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.