Judith's Reviews > The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
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Jul 21, 12

really liked it

This is a very intelligent, well-documented new book which claims that we are living in the most peaceful, least violent time in our species' existence. It is truly the ultimate "glass half-full" book. I guarantee you will be challenged when you bring up this topic of conversation anywhere you go. But Pinker has all the documentation, charts, graphs, studies, and evidence you could need to prove that statistically speaking,this is truly the "best of times". And it is important to know this because every time violence erupts there are those nay-sayers who shake their heads and long for the "good old days" and pity the poor children growing up in this era. So it is good to have evidence to the contrary.

My only problem with this book is that I couldn't read the whole thing because in making his case, the author reviews the violent history of the world and I got to a point where I just couldn't bear to hear one more crime against humanity. For example, we all know that ancient Romans in their glory days used to feed Christians to the lions for entertainment. But did you ever know that they used to act out myths and stories in the coliseum using slaves to act out the parts of the doomed? One such story involved chaining a live slave to a rock and having a trained bird fly out and eat the liver out of him like the story of Prometheus.

I also learned the the word "genocide" was not even in use until around 1944 when it came into play to describe Hitler's plans. The reason it wasn't used was that warring nations frequently attempted to demolish whole societies or groups of people, and since that was the point of wars there was no crime.

So, I fast-forwarded to the chapters on conclusions and was able to gather enough information to feel like I got the gist of the book. I realize that's not the ideal way to read any book, but I am glad to have read it at all.

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Lorrie (new)

Lorrie Interesting review. The glass is half full. It sickens me when some people I know wish they could go back to the times when we were young and "crime was less". We just weren't aware of the crime because we were so young. I wouldn't want to turn back the hands of time to when we were farther away from the possibility of civil equality.


Judith You know, that's so funny. I received one of those stupid emails from a mutual friend of ours a few years back and I ripped into her. I said, you want to go back to the "good old days . . . Before integration, polio vaccines, birth control, equal pay . . . "?


message 3: by Lorrie (new)

Lorrie I remember that happening....sort of! It's very difficult living so close to such ignorance. I just don't understand it and just want to run away sometimes.


Judith There's ignorance everywhere. And you should be so proud of yourself because as an educator, you are fighting the battle against it every day. "Better to light one candle than curse the darkness."


message 5: by Lorrie (new)

Lorrie I like that quote. Thanks.


Judith I think it's the Amnesty International theme quote. I like it too.


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