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Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  769 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
One of the strongest works of moral philosophy of the last two decades, Humanity presents deeply felt and disturbing meditations on the 20th century's most brutal historical episodes. Jonathan Glover ambitiously attempts a moral psychology, tracing the patterns of human psychology that breed violence. Shrewd case studies examine the intellectual follies and moral horrors o ...more
Paperback, 476 pages
Published August 11th 2001 by Yale University Press (first published 1999)
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Sep 18, 2007 Daniel rated it did not like it
Don't be fooled by the title: this book is neither about humanity, nor is it a history of the 20th century -- though we can perhaps say it is moral, if morality means feeling good about not being a war criminal. Glover's grandiose title masks a project of a substantially more limited scope: a catalogue of atrocities committed in the last century, followed by a discussion after each particular episode of what went wrong and a concluding section with suggestions as to how we can fix it.

Glover's pu
Dec 03, 2015 Mohsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
بعدا یه روویو منظم مینویسم :)
نوشتن روییو واسه این کتاب خیلی سخته ولی
بنظرم کتاب فوق العاده ای بود برای افرادی که در حال از دست دادن اخلاقیات هستند و خودشون خبر ندارن و یا برای کسایی که اگاهانه انتخاب کردن هم میتونه تلنگری باشه!
-قسمتهایی از مطالبی رو که آورده گاهی احساس میشد که هدفمنده یعنی بعضی اتفاقات رو مخصوصا ذکر نکرده یا ضروری ندونسته!
همونطور که خود نویسنده ذکر کرده کتاب حاصل 10 سال تلاشه و اطلاعات گسترده ای رو شامل میشه فلسفه،تاریخ،زیستی،و...
David Gross
Jun 12, 2007 David Gross rated it really liked it
Humanity tries to examine some of the worst wars and atrocities of the last century with an eye toward finding some sort of strategy for making them less likely or not as awful in the next century. He explores these events from a number of angles — asking how the people who advocated them came to have their views and how those views became influential, how the people who participated in them overcame any aversion they might have had to becoming monsters, and how the way society was structured en ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Philipp rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book summarizes the worst atrocities of the 20th century, not as some kind of freakshow, but as examples in how human psychology and ethics can be bent to enable people to commit the worst mankind has done in its 200,000 years of history. Glover doesn't offer many solutions for the future (maybe in another book?) except that we need political restraints on a world scale (but: if you have a world police, that police can kill without problems) and we need to learn how to develop ethics and ps ...more
Bastian Greshake
Jun 27, 2014 Bastian Greshake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A deeply moving book, which makes you doubt Steven Pinker's claims that violence is vanishing. Glover, as a moral philosopher, takes a look into how inhumane humanity has acted in the 20th century. It includes all the things you would expect: World War I and the Battle of the Somme, but also the British Naval Blockade; World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the atrocities of Nazi Germany; the terror spread by Stalin, Mao & Pot; Vietnam and My Lai; Rwanda; the Bosnian War. For all of these example ...more
Jul 12, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing
Probably the most extraordinary and insightful book I have read this year. Not for the squeamish. Indeed one could say the whole 20th century is not for the squeamish. The essential message is that the source of really toxic genocide is tribalism (or extreme nationalism) and rigid belief systems. When you get the two in tandem as in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Maoist China you get mega deaths. And there is a watch out here both for two major powers that have strong nationalism and religiou ...more
Pedy gonzales
Mar 18, 2014 Pedy gonzales rated it it was amazing
به قول خشایاردیهیمی خوندن این کتاب بر همه فارغ از عقایدشون واجبه. این تازه قسمتی از جنگها و کشتارهای قرن بیستم بود. این کتاب و وحشتی که از جنگ به آدم میده میتونه خوی انسانی آدم رو تقویت کنه و بیزاری از کشتار رو افزایش بده. شایدم نه
Jun 14, 2010 Scholapaul rated it it was amazing
This is a very accessable work on morality and the psychology of people who commit attrocities. It manages to steer clear of making its own judgements, and sticks to the central question of "why?".

Having read my fair share of moral philosophy, this is exceedingly rare. Also rare is that the book does not really fall into the trap of stating that things now are worse than ever before, just that our modern attrocites are better documented and thus are uniquly suited to analysis.

It is perhaps not
Sep 26, 2015 Sia7ash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
در ستایش این کتاب به درستی گفته شده که
تصور اینکه کتابی می تواند مهم تر از این باشد دشوار است.

کتاب فوق العاده اییه.از چرایی بسیاری از رفتارهای وحشیانه در قرن بیستم گفته, از وحشیگری انسانهایی عادی با زندگی های عادی در حق دیگران.
جنایتکارانی که بهشون هیولا گفته میشه درصورتیکه هیچ یک هیولا نیستند تنها افرادی هستند عادی ولی بدون عمق اندیشه.انسانهایی بی هدف که بهشون هدف داده میشه, بجنگید و بکشید چون دیگران از شما پست ترند

گذشته در حال زنده ست و تاریخ وقتی تکرار میشه که فراموش شده باشه
این کتاب روبخونید.
Charles Finch
Oct 24, 2015 Charles Finch rated it it was amazing
Hard to read because of the atrocities it describes, but meaningful, devastating, and fascinating, with just the right level of philosophy for readers who don't want anything arcane. Intense, level criticisms of Nietzsche and Heidegger, and how they do bear some responsibility for the Nazi rise, which will stay with me for a long time.
Nov 20, 2013 Dhandayutha rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
Sorry I Couldn't read the whole book.I don't even want to read it for the simple reason it consider Nietzsche as an anti humanist.Consider his views cruel,and even glover deliberately use term like Nietzsche challenge against humanity which is nothing but rubbish.In one way or another Nietzsche influenced and responsibe for the rise of many potential crusaders to fight for humanity.
Norbert Barth
Dec 08, 2014 Norbert Barth rated it really liked it
Combines very instructive historical details with ethical questions.
Ryan Houlette
Apr 07, 2015 Ryan Houlette rated it it was amazing
Important and thought-provoking.
Jun 10, 2010 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Highly recommend to everyone interested in avoiding historical repetitions.
Jan 25, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: methodological
انسانیت: تاریخ اخلاقی سدهی بیستم / جاناتان گلاور / تهران: آگه، چاپِ اول 1392
تاریخ جدید، جنگ، جنبههای اخلاقی- قرن21م
تاریخ، جنگ، انسانیت، فجایع- قرن 20م

اخلاق و تاریخ: مفهوم انسانیت در تقابل با بیرحمی [31]
از «سخن سرپرست مجموعه» و «پیشگفتار» آن میگذرم زیرا خلاصهای از آنرا در معرفینامهی این ویرایش، ثبت کردهام.
تشکر و خوشامدگویی
جاناتان گلاور، در بخش تقدیر و تشکر این اثر، از همهی کسانیکه با دعوتشان از او برای ارائهی سخنرانی و گفتوگوها، در پیشبرد نوشتن این کتاب او را یاری رساندهاند تشکر میکند. و ما را
John Alt
Apr 14, 2013 John Alt rated it it was amazing
Do sociopaths have a conscience?

Yes, but not in the way you might think.

Philosopher Jonathan Glover (born 1941) has focused on bioethics. Currently teaching at King's College London, Glover is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in the United States.

Glover argues for Applied Ethics in his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (1999), as distinct from Normative Ethics or Meta-ethics, the one dealing with what we should believe, the othe
that cute little red-eyed kitten
A demanding read. Not uninteresting and not bad, but I think the author is making some basic mistakes about the Enlightenment and about religion as a guarantee for objective moral. Yes, religion can motivate the individual to save lives. But it can also motivate the individual to take lives. True, without God, there's no ultimate moral authority, but again, that authority can never justify holy wars or cruelty to infidels anymore, because said authority does not any longer exist.

So post-enlight
Alina Apine
Jul 14, 2013 Alina Apine rated it really liked it

I honestly think that this book should be used as part of teaching history in schools. The book examines the reasons behind some of the biggest atrocities in the twentieth century. It combines facts with explanations and analysis, which I think is crucial in trying to understand the events of Rwanda, 1st World War, Hiroshima etc.

The book was not an easy read, but it's extremely satisfying in terms of understanding, for example, why people did not protest under Stalin's regime. For me it has alw
Aug 03, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, ethics
Glover wants to understand why human beings are so awful to one another. Although his attempts to answer the question may be part of the explanation, they are unconvincing as the whole explanation. He lays down an awful lot of blame in this book, but in the end, he does not have the resources to say why eugenics, to take one example, is wrong. He just assumes that his reader will agree with him that it is (which also shows that the book, as well as the sensibilities of the author, is dated).

Antti Salovaara
Oct 27, 2012 Antti Salovaara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ihmisyys ansaitsee juuri ja juuri neljä tähteä laajuutensa ja helppolukuisuutensa ansiosta, mikäli kirjaa arvioi suurelle yleisölle tarkoitettuna teoksena. Otsikossa mainittu moraalihistoria tarkoittaa tässä pääosin johdatusta 1900-luvun hirmutekoihin. Se on kuitenkin päämääränä arvokas, sillä 1900-luku on valitettavan täynnä kauheita asioita, joita ei saa unohtaa ja joiden ymmärtäminen voi - ainakin tuttua sanontaa seuraten - säästää meitä samojen tapahtumakulkujen toistamiselta.

Ihmisyys keskit
Glover provides an overview of moral catastrophe in the twentieth century, seeking to look at all forms of moral outrage from face-to-face killing to Nazi exterminationism. His approach is unique, in that rather than adopting a chronological or linear explanation of events across the most brutal century in history, he instead seeks to understood the moral shortcomings in individuals. He does this by looking into their psychology rather than pathologizing them, and starts with lesser abuses (the ...more
Bob Price
Sep 28, 2014 Bob Price rated it it was amazing
What would the world be without Humanity? Fortunately, we do need to know the answer to this question.

Jonathan Glover's Humanity is an amazing achievement. He goes through the history of the 20th Century attempting to highlight the ethical and moral concerns that have plagued that century. He goes through the decisions to expand military attacks on civilians, blockades, the socialist progroms of the Soviet Union and Mao's China and then ends with a discussion of Nazi Germany.

There is no way to a
Jun 07, 2007 Raghu rated it liked it
This book by Jonathan Glover examines the atrocities and cruelties of twentieth century - the two world wars, the My Lai atrocity in Vietnam, Hiroshima, tribal genocide in Rwanda, Stalinism, Nazism, and so on.
At times, it is hard to read the descriptions of the atrocities before Glover goes on to analyze as to what makes men, who are otherwise moral and law-abiding, to participate in heinous crimes. The analysis is partly psychological, partly social and societal, partly historical and so on.
Jessica Lavander-Biggs
Humanity brought the atrocities of the 20th century together with philosophy and psychology to explain how they occurred, and how they can be prevented in the future.
The book fell short of its claim for me. The most interesting sections were the history prior to the atrocities, and I found myself skipping through a lot of the philosophical sections. The author was making a lot of vague and basic claims along the lines of things I learned in high school history class. The book also lacked any ins
Apr 08, 2009 Allan rated it really liked it
My first non-fiction in a while. It's a very intense book, covering major atrocities of the twentieth century and trying to connect the dots from smaller ones to larger. The idea is to find parallels. Do transitions such as going from allowing a few "accidental" civilian targets in WW2 bombing -> encouraging firebombing of cities -> Hiroshima & Nagasaki mirror the transitions of dehumanizing prisoners -> coming to accept torture as ok? What combinations of fear and intimidation kept ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, 1999, Jonathan Glover
عنوان: انسانیت: تاریخ اخلاقی سدهی بیستم؛ پدیدآور: جاناتان گلاور؛ مترجم: افشین خاکباز؛ ویراستار: خشایار دیهیمی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، آگه، 1392ش؛ در 692 صفحه، 22در16 سانتیمتر ، فروست: مجموعهی تاریخ؛ شابک: 9789643292874؛ موضوع: تاریخ جدید، جنگ، جنبههای اخلاقی- قرن21م؛ تاریخ، جنگ، انسانیت، فجایع- قرن 20م

فهرست: سخن سرپرست مجموعه 21؛ پیشگفتار 23؛ تقدیر و تشکر 27؛ اینگونه خامی، دیگر هرگز 29؛ بخش یک: اخلاق بدون قوانین اخلاقی 43؛ بخ
Evie Hemphill
Feb 06, 2016 Evie Hemphill is currently reading it
"The extreme case was the atomic bomb. The pilots and crew were obeying orders. The officers who gave the orders were part of a chain of command stretching back to the President. Some of the scientists thought they were just doing their job, turning over atomic power to mankind at large, to deal with according to its lights and values. Stimson's committee apparently felt constrained by what they thought were the opinions of Roosevelt and Churchill. And the President himself apparently thought th ...more
Tapio Juutinen
Jul 11, 2016 Tapio Juutinen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totaalisen oloinen lähestyminen totaalisen sodan vuosisadan kauhuihin.
Gloverin inhimillinen ote toimii: hän ottaa tapauksen, kertoo taustat ja faktat, erittelee vaikuttimet ja yhteydet aiempiin ja myöhempiin rikoksiin. Natsit säästetään loppuun, tunnusmerkit suurimmalle pahuudelle kun täyttyvät perustellusti.
Kokonaisuus on hengästyttävä (monessakin mielessä) tarina siitä, miten ihmisen psykologiassa on paljon pysyvää, hyvässä kuin pahassa. Valmiita vastauksia Glover ei tuleville sukupolville ann
Sep 01, 2012 Hammer rated it it was amazing
A tremendous read. Glover uses his background in ethical philosophy to look over the twentieth century's cruelest events to gain insight into our humanity. Its great success lies in both the clarity of its writing, and its achievement of its goal. Glover never looses sight of his purpose to delve into actual events with a lens of ethics to gain real understanding. He never stumbles about in intellectual masturbation the way so many philosophers do. Above all, he finds real answers. Having read t ...more
Tin Wee
Jan 22, 2012 Tin Wee rated it really liked it
The first two chapters are an effort to go through - but you will be glad you did. The book explores philosophy, ethics, and human psychology behind how seemingly decent individuals in communities and societies can be complicit in humanities' worst atrocities. Case studies include Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Hitler's Holocaust, the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis, the conflict between the Serbs/ Croats/ Bosnians, and the mass killing of civilians in World War 2. The read is heavy going b ...more
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Jonathan Glover (born 1941) is a British philosopher known for his studies on bioethics. He was educated in Tonbridge School, later going on to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was a fellow and tutor in philosophy at New College, Oxford. He currently teaches ethics at King's College London. Glover is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in the United Sta ...more
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“o In the decision to use the bomb the base line had shifted down during the moral slide from the blockade to the area bombing of Germany and to the fire-bombing of Japan. Predictably one member of Stimson’s committee made the point that the ‘number of people that would be killed by the bomb would not be greater in general magnitude than the number already killed in fire raids’.” 1 likes
“Above all, the sense of personal responsibility was reduced by the way agency was fragmented. Among the airmen who obeyed the order to drop the bomb, the many scientists who helped to make it, the President, the many political and military advisers involved in the decision, who killed the people of Hiroshima? No one seems to have felt that the responsibility was fully his.” 1 likes
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