The Better Angels of Our Nature
A review of

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Why Violence Has Declined

Steven PinkerPenguin • 2012

A Violent History

by David Meyer

Steven Pinker searches history for the reasons that violence has shockingly decreased worldwide.

Best-selling author Steven Pinker – the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Today – presents a dizzying, immense and revelatory re-evaluation of violence throughout history. His central thesis, which he defends with research, charts, graphs, statistics, and surveys of history and psychology, is that worldwide violence has declined to historically low levels. Therefore, this is a time of unprecedented peace.

Today the British royal family is excoriated for shortcomings ranging from rudeness to infidelity. You’d think people would give them credit for not having had a single relative decapitated, nor a single rival drawn and quartered.Steven Pinker

To clarify the importance of today’s reduced violence, Pinker offers an overview of worldwide violence in every era. The final part of his analysis covers the social and psychological motivations that fuel violence and the individual moral – and broad historical – influences that resist it.

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