The “lively”, “convincing”, and “riveting pick-me-up we all need right now” that proves humanity thrives in a crisis and that our innate kindness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in our long-term success as a species.

Product Code: 5947
ISBN: 9780316418522
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Pages: 480
Published Date: 11/16/2021
Availability:In stock
Price: $18.99

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad. It's a notion that drives newspaper headlines and guides the laws that shape our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.

But what if it isn't true? International bestseller Rutger Bregman provides new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another. In fact this instinct has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of Homo sapiens.

From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the solidarity in the aftermath of the Blitz, the hidden flaws in the Stanford prison experiment to the true story of twin brothers on opposite sides who helped Mandela end apartheid, Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic—it's realistic. Moreover, it has huge implications for how society functions. When we think the worst of people, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics. But if we believe in the reality of humanity's kindness and altruism, it will form the foundation for achieving true change in society, a case that Bregman makes convincingly with his signature wit, refreshing frankness, and memorable storytelling.

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1. A New Realism
2. The Real Lord of the Flies

Part 1 The State of Nature
3. The Rise of Homo puppy
4. Colonel Marshall and the Soldiers Who Wouldn’t Shoot
5. The Curse of Civilization
6. The Mystery of Easter Island

Part 2 After Auschwitz
7. In the Basement of Stanford University
8. Stanley Milgram and the Shock Machine
9. The Death of Catherine Susan Genovese

Part 3 Why Good People Turn Bad
10. How Empty Blinds
11. How Power Corrupts
12. What the Enlightenment Got Wrong

Part 4 New Realism
13. The Power of Intrinsic Motivation
14. Homo ludens
15. This is What Democracy Looks Like

Part 5 The Other Cheek
16. Drinking Tea with Terrorists
17. The Best Remedy for Hate, Injustice and Prejudice
18. When the Soldier Came Out of the Trenches

Epilogue Ten Rules to Live By


“A lively social history... Bregman offers a compelling case for reshaping institutions and policies along genuinely humane lines.” - The New Yorker

"Rutger Bregman's extraordinary new book is a revelation. Although Humankind is masterful in its grasp of history, both ancient and modern, the real achievement is Bregman's application of history to a new understanding of human nature. Humankind changes the conversation and lights the path to a brighter future. We need it now more than ever."—Susan Cain, author of Quiet

"Bregman puts together a compelling argument that society has been built on a false premise... He has a Gladwellian gift for sifting through academic reports and finding anecdotal jewels... Bregman never loses sight of his central thesis, that at root humans are 'friendly, peaceful, and healthy'... There's a great deal of reassuring human decency to be taken from this bold and thought-provoking book and a wealth of evidence in support of the contention that the sense of who we are as a species has been deleteriously distorted... It makes a welcome change to read such a sustained and enjoyable tribute to our better natures." - Andrew Anthony, The Guardian

"Fascinating... Convincing... After cogently laying out the problem, Bregman turns to solutions... He describes businesses without bosses, schools in which teachers assume that students want to learn, and local governments in which citizens exert genuine power wisely... A powerful argument in favor of human virtue." - Kirkus, starred review

"Bregman puts a positive spin on human behavior in this intriguing survey of politics, literature, psychology, sociology, and philosophy. To prove his hypothesis that humankind is basically good, he reevaluates some of the most entrenched cultural narratives suggesting otherwise... This intelligent and reassuring chronicle disproves much received wisdom about the dark side of human nature. Readers looking for solace in uncertain times will find it here." - Publishers Weekly

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