The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Hardcover)

Why Violence Has Declined

By Steven Pinker

Viking Adult, 9780670022953, 832pp.

Publication Date: October 4, 2011

Advertisement

Description

Selected by "The New York Times Book Review" as a Notable Book of the Year

The author of "The New York Times" bestseller "The Stuff of Thought" offers a controversial history of violence.

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives- the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away-and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.



About the Author

Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of "Time's" 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and "Foreign Policy's" 100 Global Thinkers.


Praise For The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

"For anyone interested in human nature, the material is engrossing, and when the going gets heavy, Pinker knows how to lighten it with ironic comments and a touch of humor ... a supremely important book. To have command of so much research, spread across so many different fields, is a masterly achievement."
--The New York Times Book Review

"...an extraordinary range of research ... a masterly effort."
--The Wall Street Journal

" ...Better Angels is a monumental achievement. His book should make it much harder for pessimists to cling to their gloomy vision of the future. Whether war is an ancient adaptation or a pernicious cultural infection, we are learning how to overcome it."
--Slate.com



Coverage from NPR

Advertisement