Excellent book. First task was to convince the reader that we're less violent now than we've ever been, including dispelling notions of the peaceful native, check. Second, look exhaustively for mechanism(s) which could account for the decline in violence, check. Those are big deals. Author looks to put in context a lot of research and does an excellent job. This book asks important questions regarding why we see murder rates in Western Europe well below 1 per 100,000 per year. Also does a great job of putting in context why an Afghanistan might be different than Iceland. Really had me look at a lot of assumptions I've been making.
The reading was really good. It propelled the narrative along at what I considered to be a perfect pace.
Pinker's discussion of women's rights was so perfectly concise and moving. His high regard for women was obvious without pandering. I heard ideas that were new to me. Outstanding historical synopsis.
I appreciated Arthur Morey's pace and cadence. I think that he emphasized the right words and phrases most of the time.
These are the good old days!
It is long and took me months to get through, but it was worth it. Steven Pinker writes a very thorough and multifaceted look at the evidence in various situations and draws conclusions that are reasoned and measured. The facts alone are fascinating but his reflections on those facts are what really makes this book fascinating. I've bought some more of his books to listen to next.
The narrator was also great, good speed and pronunciation. Very clear and easy to understand.
Road warrior, love listening ~ love learning
I have made the mistake of writing this review a considerable period of time from completing the listen. The audible had considerable information to share and was entertaining at times, however I couldn't help anticipating the completion and moving on. I believe this is a listen that one is able to spend a considerable amount of time and listens to in order to garner all that it has to offer. It is more of an encyclopedia listen than an engaging, cliff hanging experience. I am considerably wiser and garnered a number of stories that will suit fine for wine party discussion. I will refer back to this at times for pieces I have missed or was unable to digest at that time. The book may benefit from an abridged version. If you like a little pain with your pay-off, then enjoy.
Appreciated the historical perspective. The statistical analysis was a bit heavy. Would recommend to those who have the time to devote to this controversial view of the decline of violence. I learned!
Relax, have a homebrew
This was an j treating review if human behavior. Our baseline acceptance of violence has plummeted, to our great benefit. Sometimes too many descriptions of past evils, but I suppose that is part of the point.
The length of this book may appear daunting, but the content and accessibility of that content is excellent. The rate of reduced violence over human history is remarkable, and the author does a tremendous job of exploring the correlation and causality of the forces driving down violence. I recognize that not everyone will choose to read this book, however I strongly recommend it to everyone none the less.
This book puts into perspective, with undeniable evidence, how the modern era is essentially the most peaceful era in all of human existence and how it came to be this way. Anyone who considers themselves as an activist for human rights will not only gain insight into what the fight is all about, but also empowerment in knowing that all efforts are not in vain, not in the least bit!
As lengthy as it is, the book stays consistently interesting and accessible to the Everyman. While there are large portions of the book that make references to scholarly material, there are no points in wish it leaves the reader behind and in the dark, and instead holds a helpful hand throughout its entirety.
Eye opening. Life changing. Perspective shifting. Philosophically vindicating. Worth every penny and every minute spent. Even more useful with multiple reads! Surely a classic in the pantheon of essential non-fiction.
I love to read about other people's lives for ideas and inspiration
This book spends a lot of time describing the gruesome methods people once used to torture and kill each other and lists uncommonly known wars and genocides, very thoroughly detailed with numbers of casualties. All this has the aim to show that things are better now, by comparison. For all the gore, it is not easy to listen to this book before falling asleep or while eating. There is not a lot of in-depth detail to explain why things have improved. It is presented as, with the increase in human intelligence, barbaric acts fall out of fashion. One example is the Salem witch trials. People became smarter and the idea that a witch was responsible for a natural phenomenon was seen as ludicrous and so the witch trials end.
For me, the most interesting part of the book was the explanation of how people go along with ideas to not rock the boat and even get approval, even when they are complicit in acts they would not do alone. Genocide is explained this way - where one population goes along with the annihilation of another, even though they do not agree that it is right. Many smaller experiments are presented to show this on smaller scales - like the shock experiment where the shocker is encouraged to press buttons of increasing voltage to shock another person who is screaming.
This book puts the news reports of school massacres, suicide bombings, drone strikes and massive military spending into a new light, by showing how far we have come.
I would like the massive amount of data re: deaths due to war, torture, capital punishment to be more animated, as a way to shake things up. Maybe use a different voice for this? it just droned on and on.
Men's testosterone levels decrease when they marry and when they have children.
In a world where people seem more and more likely to never let their children play outside by themselves or make their own way to school, in a world where people seem less and less likely to take responsibility for any part of their lives and not want to sign their names to requests they make, all this may just "seem" to be the way it is. The numbers in this book certainly show that things are only getting better, that we are more tolerant of others and more respectful of human and animal rights. Steven Pinker points out that, if 9/11 had happened in the more distance past, it would have triggered immediate retaliation and civic unrest, when in fact, the immediate response was almost completely non-violent.
Great data, shows why gun control advocates are nothing more than alarmist. The book suffers by trying to equate liberalism with intelligence and an evolved society.