Humankind: A Hopeful History

Humankind: A Hopeful History


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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 suffrage, or the ratification of marriage equality -- was once considered radical and dangerous by the mainstream opinion of its time. With Humankind, he brings that mentality to bear against one of our most entrenched ideas: namely, that human beings are by nature selfish and self-interested.

By providing a new historical perspective of the last 200,000 years of human history, Bregman sets out to prove that we are in fact evolutionarily wired for cooperation rather than competition, and that our instinct to trust each other has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of Homo sapiens. Bregman systematically debunks our understanding of the Milgram electrical-shock experiment, the Zimbardo prison experiment, and the Kitty Genovese "bystander effect."

In place of these, he offers little-known true stories: the tale of twin brothers on opposing sides of apartheid in South Africa who came together with Nelson Mandela to create peace; a group of six shipwrecked children who survived for a year and a half on a deserted island by working together; a study done after World War II that found that as few as 15% of American soldiers were actually capable of firing at the enemy.

The ultimate goal of Humankind is to demonstrate that while neither capitalism nor communism has on its own been proven to be a workable social system, there is a third option: giving "citizens and professionals the means (left) to make their own choices (right)." Reorienting our thinking toward positive and high expectations of our fellow man, Bregman argues, will reap lasting success. Bregman presents this idea with his signature wit and frankness, once again making history, social science and economic theory accessible and enjoyable for lay readers.

Title:Humankind: A Hopeful History
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Humankind: A Hopeful History Reviews

  • Jenna ? ?  ?

    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 ...

  • Maggie Stiefvater

    This books handles a subject I’ve always been interested in: how we become the stories we tell about ourselves. I’ve long been intrigued by Beem’s theory of personality, that our personality is ...

  • Trevor

    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 o...

  • Mehrsa

    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 act...

  • Emma

    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 bo...

  • Jan

    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 wh...

  • 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 classe...

  • Michael Perkins

    The author totally outwitted Tucker Carlson, who lost his cool, and refused to air the episode. we are seeing right now..."The nocebo effect...

  • Krista

    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 b...

  • Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    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 ...