Review of The Better Angels of Our Nature

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9 Overall

9 Importance

9 Innovation

9 Style


Steven Pinker – Harvard psychology professor, best-selling author of The Sense of Style and five other books and one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today” – presents a dizzying, immense, revelatory re-evaluation of violence globally, now and throughout history. His central thesis, which he defends with research, charts, graphs, surveys of history and psychological theory, is that worldwide violence has declined to historically low levels. You live in a time of unprecedented peace.

Foremost, Pinker argues that to understand today’s reduced violence, readers need an overview of worldwide levels of violence in every era since history began, which he supplies. In the final third of his text, he analyzes the social and psychological motivations that fuel human violence and the individual moral – and broad historical – influences that resist it.

Digesting Pinker’s proof of his thesis is not a small undertaking. Veering between fascinating and impenetrable, Pinker details the process of civilization’s march and how psychological forces, media hype and habitual thinking may prevent you from recognizing the safety of your current world. Professors, students, social theorists and other academics will likely read every word of this massive, groundbreaking tome. getAbstract believes a diligent scan – combined with deep reading of selective chapters – may change your understanding of the evolution of human society.

About the Author

Steven Pinker is a Harvard College professor and the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His books include The Sense of Style, The Blank Slate, Words and Rules, How the Mind Works and The Language Instinct.


Pinker offers the following lessons and insights:

 1. “Six trends” delineate the history of human violence.

1) The first trend is the shift from hunter-gatherer tribes to agricultural societies. 2) From 1500 AD to the present, homicides declined precipitously. 3) In Europe during the “Age of Reason,” governments proscribed nonstate violence. 4) Post-World War II, the great powers by and large rejected war as an instrument of policy. 5) The period from 1989 to the present is “The New Peace,” during which conflicts have lessened. 6) From 1948 to today, violence against women, minorities, homosexuals and children has dropped significantly.

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