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FACED WITH THE CEASELESS STREAM OF NEWS about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as the Harvard University psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened? This groundbreaking work continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives—the inner demons and the better angels—and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail.
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