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Humankind: A Hopeful History

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  20,860 ratings  ·  2,644 reviews
From the author of Utopia For Realists, a revolutionary argument that the innate goodness and cooperation of human beings has been the greatest factor in our success

If one basic principle has served as the bedrock of bestselling author Rutger Bregman's thinking, it is that every progressive idea -- whether it was the abolition of slavery, the advent of democracy, women's s
Hardcover, 462 pages
Published June 2nd 2020 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 13th 2019)
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Sanne Hermans Ik heb het nog niet gelezen, maar in een interview met Geschiedenis Magazine schrijft Bregman dat hij tegen Pinker ingaat: "Psycholoog Steven Pinker v…moreIk heb het nog niet gelezen, maar in een interview met Geschiedenis Magazine schrijft Bregman dat hij tegen Pinker ingaat: "Psycholoog Steven Pinker verkondigt in zijn boeken het wereldbeeld dat we vroeger beesten waren die elkaar de hersens insloegen, en dat het met ieder stukje beschaving - de staat, het schrift, de Verlichting, de Industriële Revolutie - steeds iets beter werd. Daar ga ik tegenin. Het grootste deel van de geschiedenis van de beschaving was één groot fiasco voor een groot deel van de mensheid." Hij noemt als voorbeelden hoe landbouw leidde tot slavernij, ziektes, ongelijkheid. Het was dus niet zo'n positieve ontwikkeling in de geschiedenis van de mens als wordt beweerd (dit laat Harari met Sapiens natuurlijk ook al zien). De nadruk ligt dus op de mens zelf als goedaardig wezen, en niet op de vooruitgang die de mens goedaardig(er) zou maken (Pinker). Zo heb ik het in ieder geval begrepen! Hoop dat je er wat aan hebt.(less)

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Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: Shivam Kimothi
You know that person who's always so happy no matter what? Maybe it's the colleague who is bright and cheery at 8:00 every Monday morning when everyone else is struggling just to open their eyes and get their third cup of coffee down? 

चाड्डा अमितशर्मा GIF - चाड्डा अमितशर्मा थेऑफ़िस GIFs

Or that really annoying person who always urges you to look on the bright side. Oh, your arm fell off? No worries, you have another! Oh, your second arm fell off too? Well, just think of all the fun you're going to have learning how to use your feet to open doors,
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish I hadn’t recently read Calling Bullshit. According to that book, I really ought to be applying the sharpest possible criticism to this book. The reason being that this book confirms so many of my own prejudices. In fact, I’ve used many of the arguments used here (and even the same examples) in my own life. For example, over the last few years I’ve been asked to give the opening lecture on the importance of literacy to undergrad education students at work. Mostly, I look at how social clas ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I picked up this book to hate-read it. I thought it would be more Pinker and and that Lars guy saying how everything is better now and will everyone just shut up sort of stuff. But I actually really loved the book--that is, I loved the first 2/3rds of the book. The last 1/3rd was way too cute and optimistic for my cold cynical heart. The book is not making the claim that Pinker is making. The book is a point by point debunking of a Hobbsian worldview and the sham "studies" and stor ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Some great stories, but anecdotes don't make a sustained argument and the whole isn't entirely convincing. Even so, it's the perfect time for a healthy dose of optimism and if there's anything this book does well it's showing how hope and positivity can breed more. So go forth and be the good you want to see in the world. You might just inspire others to do the same.

ARC via Netgalley
Bregmans book is immensely populair at this moment in Holland. The central thesis is clear from the title, freely translated: Most people are OK. Bregmans, is a journalist and historic from Holland who gained fame by explicitering the need for tax reforms at Davos. In this book he argues that most people are OK in two different ways.

1. By summarizing study results that proof our good nature, that is, an preference for social cooperative behaviour and aversion to violence
2. Secondly by trashing e
Clif Hostetler
If you wish to believe that people are naturally good but you can’t because of the counter examples in the news and you’ve been taught otherwise in history, sociology, and psychology school classes, then you need to read this book. This book makes a convincing case that humans are by nature friendly and peaceful creatures, and most of the counter examples are caused by pressures of civilization for which evolution of the human brain has left us ill-prepared.

Bregman makes the case that a probabl
Michael Perkins
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The author totally outwitted Tucker Carlson, who lost his cool, and refused to air the episode.


What we are seeing right now...

"The nocebo effect is that ideas are never merely ideas. We are what we believe. We find what we go looking for. And what we predict, comes to pass. If we believe most people can’t be trusted, that’s how we’ll treat each other, to everyone’s detriment. Few ideas have as much power to shape the world as our view of ot
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
An idealist can be right her whole life, and still be dismissed as naive. This book is intended to change that. Because what seems unreasonable, unrealistic, and impossible today, can turn out to be inevitable tomorrow. It is time for a new realism. It is time for a new view of humankind.

With the subtitle “A Hopeful History”, Humankind is exactly the kind of optimistic read I think I needed right now. With so much negative going on, I keep hearing, “What do you expect? People are the worst,
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rutger Bregman returns with one of the most anticipated nonfiction titles of the year. What makes this such a fantastic read is that it is equal parts fascinating and informative; many such books can be dry and tedious but Humankind avoids those pitfalls by employing a highly readable writing style to entice you to carry on turning the pages well into the night. At its heart, this is a book about human nature and on the whole is optimistic about life. I found it different from what I would usual ...more
Some books reach you at the right time and this book did exactly that. To be fair, the right time for a book offering a hopeful, optimistic view of humankind to reach me wasn’t that small of a window – I’ve been noticing how I, an usually optimistic person in my day-to-day-life, have become increasingly cynical when it comes to my fellow humans. And… can you blame me, in this economy, this pandemic, this global climate crisis, this political turmoil, etc. etc. etc.?

Just like I know you can’t bla
Rhian Pritchard
This book has taken me nearly two months to read, not because it was difficult to read (it’s not, it’s beautifully written and translated) but because the ideas required quite so long to process fully. I don’t know if anyone has spoken to me in the last two months and NOT had me recommend this book to them wholeheartedly, even when I was only about a hundred pages in. It is like reading a book that confirms and reinforces, through meticulous research, discussion and sourcing, a secret truth I ha ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-finished
1.5 stars
Never been happier to finish a book!
"What we look for is what we'll find", says Bregman. Hmm, could that be the case with his book and his "research"? He seems to want to sell his idea so (too) badly that he foregoes any scrutiny or nuance. There are a lot more points of criticism and I did start to write them all down, but my list was getting too long so I stopped. Besides, there are some excellent reviews already (be it in Dutch):
Bou's review
Lieke's review
Daniëlle's review
Amber's rev
Bryan Alkire
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good book. It’s a contrarian take on human nature, that we’re better than evil. It basically attempts to counteract the popular takes of various events and human nature experiments. It works because it’s readable, more so than many books in the genre. I’s read about most of the things in this work, but there were a few insights I hadn’t considered before. So, I got something new to consider, always a plus. Of course, the danger of this book and any other book on humans is the confirmation bias o ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Tine Putzeys
Once again, I'm in doubt about the number of stars to give this book.

I wanted to give it many many stars, I really did, because I like the premise that most people are inherently good. This has been my gut feeling for a long time, even if I get all kinds of opposite signals from the media and the f*ckers stealing my phone and breaking into my house.

Bergman does give us some great examples of people being awesome and lovely anecdotes for me to casually throw into random conversations. And if I
Eddie Clarke
Four stars. In the philosophical stand-off between Hobbes (human life is a war of all against all, papered over with the thinnest veneer of civilisation) and Rousseau (we were born noble savages and civilisation has corrupted us) Bregman comes down decisively in favour of Rousseau.

Such a flattering premise makes the book very enjoyable to read, at least in the first half.

The weakness of the book is that it is a string of nicely written and presented anecdotes/episodes/debunkings and then like a
Jan 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
The narrative is contradictory, the opinions too black and white, and the book a lazy attempt at trying to make everything fit into this black and white narrative. Life is way more nuanced, and all that he tries to deny is just fact. Face it, don't try to blame the most ridiculous stuff, which most of the time was contradicting his own premise; that most people are good. ...more
“what seems unreasonable, unrealistic and impossible today can turn out to be inevitable tomorrow. It’s time for a new realism. It’s time for a new view of humankind.”

Alas I fear at times I have so much excitement, so many thoughts, and feelings about something that rather than flowing forth as eloquent musings they kind of jam up or join together becoming one terse phrase like "READ THIS!". Well that's the case here, nevertheless, I say enthusiastically "read this", I do believe your life will
David Wineberg
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rutger Bregman set himself a really high-barrier task in his book Humankind. He wants to prove that Man is actually not violent, or bellicose, but peaceful, helpful and kind. To do it, he went back to all those famous, landmark social science studies we’ve all grown up believing. They show unequivocally that Man is selfish, self-centered, violent and wallowing in it. Bregman shows them to be faulty, false, staged or just plain bogus. It makes for an eye-opening journey readers will not soon forg ...more
Boy Blue
A tonic for a cynical worldview unfortunately just slightly too effervescent.

There's some awesome stuff in here, most of all its attacks on the same bullshit social psychology experiments and theories that turned this reader off a career in the profession a decade ago.

He takes the sledgehammer to:

- The Standford Prison Experiment
- The Milgram Shock Experiment
- Kitty Genovese Case and the Bystander Effect
- Broken Windows theory of crime

In his attacks on these Bregman is at his absolute best and t
Matthew Hickey
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
The most profound book I’ve read in recent memory.

I recommend everybody read this and think deeply about what’s between its covers.

Life affirming and encouraging.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far, and I mean by far seriously, the best, most comforting, most relevant, and most thought provoking I have read in a long time! If I'd have to recommend one book to read at least once in your life, this would be it. Every page just rises your faith in humanity, and filled me with a warm glow. It tackles every prejudice about human nature, how it works, why we think they are true and why it's actually untrue. It advocates for a humane treatment of our fellow humans on every level of society ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
what if our negative ideas about human nature are actually a form of pluralistic ignorance? could our fear that most people are out to maximize their own gain be born of the assumption that that's what others think? and then we adopt a cynical view when, deep down, most of us are yearning for a life of more kindness and solidarity?
on one hand, dutch historian rutger bregman's new book, humankind: a hopeful history, is a thoughtful, engaging, wittily written effort. on the other, it reads as
Lisa Wright
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
HUMANKIND is a call-to-arms! We are not savages hidden beneath a thin veneer of civilization as cynics and controllers would have us believe. Bregman makes an excellent case that humans are actually rather amiable creatures who have been manipulated into believing we are wicked. No, we are no angels. We have a strong preference for those who are like us and are easily turned against the "other." But we are also quick to help when given the chance.

Bregman refutes the studies and most famous incid
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy this book as it gave me optimism at a time where it feels everything is going to sh*t. Bregman discusses the fundamental nature of humankind and presents evidence of goodness. Many times I did feel as if it was too good to be true. But until I can disprove any of his claims and the proofs he accompanies them with, I will be believing in the goodness that is present in each of us.
Tariq Mahmood
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An empowering book, radical in many ways. Made me challenge some of my prejudices. And I think this is precisely what Rutger aims to do as he charts slowly to challenge the Hobbesian view of the world, challenging each Hobbesian view one by one. It's an easy even rejuvenating read for every Rousseauian out there. But the problem is that Rousseau's view of the world cannot make movies or even news, which gives a lot of credence to Hobbesian violent view of mankind. Maybe its time to reconsider? ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
This was SO INTERESTING. And exactly what I needed to hear about humanity. It’s super well researched and thoughtful and just fun. This and Evicted by Matthew Desmond will go into my hall of fame of research-based non fiction
Kristin Van den Eede
Reading this book felt wholesome, like a healthy dose of idealism – scratch that, realism! Most people are okay, and if I didn’t already feel that way, Bregman sure as hell convinced me with this book. It’s basically hours of meditation and therapy and insights from dozens of self-help books, all wrapped up into one cogent, eloquently written text.
If I had to name one drawback, though, it would be that the book could be about 1/3 shorter and 1/3 less anecdotal. Contrary to Harari, Bregman under
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book literally changed my worldview. Highly recommended.
Shivam Kimothi
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Bergman says that our pessimistic view of humanity is a placebo. The placebo effect states that things have the potential to be true if we believe in them. He says that we have been made to believe that humans are motivated by self-interest and are inherently evil. By whom? By the psychologists who are motivated by selfish reasons and are seeking prestige and acclaim by proving so. And because we are made to believe this, we think it is true.

The book puts forward a radical idea: that humans, dee
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Rutger Bregman is a Dutch historian, author and journalist. He studied at Utrecht University and the University of California, Los Angeles and is known for popularizing topics related to social and economic innovation measures and their history through, among others, universal basic income and shorter work weeks.

Rutger Bregman is a journalist at The Correspondent, and one of Europe's most prominen

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“Van de mooiste dingen in het leven krijg je alleen maar meer als je ze weggeeft: vertrouwen, vriendschap, vrede.” 8 likes
“So what is this radical idea? That most people, deep down, are pretty decent.” 7 likes
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