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Humankind

Humankind

A Hopeful History

From the author of New York Times bestseller 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.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / World

On Sale: May 19th 2020

Price: $14.99 / $18.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 304

ISBN-13: 9780316418553

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Humankind is an in-depth overview of what is wrong with the idea is that we humans are by nature bad and unreliable. In vivid descriptions and stories, Rutger Bregman takes us back to the questionable experiments that fed this idea and offers us a more optimistic view of mankind."—Frans de Waal, New York Times bestselling author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? and Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves
"A more politically radical Malcolm Gladwell...To the extent that bookish economic historians can rampage, Bregman is on one...He combines a detailed approach to economic policy with a utopian vision of a better future...Bregman argues that it is only by dreaming about what seems to be unachievable that society can make good things possible."—Patrick Kingsley, The New York Times
"Both a fun read and a breath of fresh air to anyone who lived through the ghastly experience of last year's presidential election season . . . Utopia for Realists argues, with humor and sympathy, that we've all suffered from forgetting how to dream of a better world....What's so interesting about modern America is our hostility to the mere idea of trying to create an easier and happier life. We're a country that was once rich with social experimentation . . . Now we don't really even try, and mostly just scream at each other on the Internet. That doesn't seem like it will get us there. Maybe free money and a three-hour workday won't, either, but it sure seems like it would be more fun to try."—Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
"Convincing...Entertaining and reasoned...Bregman's book makes for enjoyable reading, and it is packed with colorful factual asides...Utopia for Realists should make for good conversation at the next dinner party."—Benjamin Cunningham, Los Angeles Review of Books
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