Cover Image: Humankind

Humankind

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Member Reviews

I think this is probably marvellous, but it didn't grab me I am afraid. I will, however, give it another read when life (with the pandemic, the worst governments we've seen in both the UK and the States in a long time etc) feels a little better. Perhaps I am missing the point, but not feeling very optimistic right now, I found its optimistic message a tad irritating despite the authors best efforts. Its clearly well researched and well thought out but it left me cold.
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This book was very well researched and thought out which made for very intruiging and engaging reading.  I hope to read the author's other works
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A good survey of the good sides of human nature, that we are not as bad a species as aspects of the media and politicians would have you believe. I also heard the author on the odd podcast, interesting for context and thoughts in writing the book. Details on the Stanford experiment for example, that this is discredited, in not new but very little known and the the benefits of a book such as Humankind is to bring this information to a wider audience. 

The main criticism is that it comes across as close to a polemic in places - that the survey and background information (and interpretation of it) behind some of the text is selective rather than objective. That aside this is a good and engaging read.
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Quite a challenging read, but for a pessimist like me I found it quite uplifting. Through evidence based research, Bregman shows us that we are right to believe that mankind is innately good. A message that we perhaps need to hear right now.
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A sweeping, hopeful re-think of history of how we have more in common with the people we live alongside than we may assume. It genuinely challenged my thinking and gave a great deal of encouragement. The world would be better if we could all absorb its messages.
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☆☆☆☆
An interesting read, not my usual type of book. It took me a while to read this book but I'm glad I persevered with it.
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*** ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***

I loved this book and found it so interesting and absorbing. It's extremely good for reminding us right now that even with everything in chaos our world is still filled with people who are inherently good and decent. 

Maybe the author falls into his own trap with confirmation bias but it's an interesting perspective to look at. Would recommend and I'll be certainly reading some more on the subject.
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Rutger Bregman has set out to reframe the perspective that humans are self-seeking and cruel. Instead, he tells tales of kindness and genuineness by transporting the reader through moments in history and showing us that we're not all bad, after all. Honestly, given the way 2020 has gone, this one was a properly needed tonic, a world apart from Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens, but just as enlightening.
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This was the first non-fiction book that I had read in a while, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it!

It's a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers, and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. And its roots sink deep into Western thought: from Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the tacit assumption is that humans are bad.
Humankind makes the case for a new argument: that it is realistic, as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. When we think the worst of others, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics too.

Non-fiction books are often written in a manner that reminds me of a textbook - info-dumpy and dry with very little emotion. In this case, I actually loved the writing style. It was incredibly informative yet it remained engaging. The topic at hand was interesting to me as I have a tendency to think the worst in people or hesitant to place my trust in those around me, so I was intrigued into whether the book would change my mind. Sadly, it did not, but I still found the book to be a pleasant read. I particularly loved that the author discussed the methodological issues that surround some of the more infamous human behavioural studies that society holds as the gold-standard (e.g. the Stanford prison experiment). As a scientist myself, I think that it is so important to take these things into consideration before drawing definitive conclusions. 

Overall, I thought that this was a super interesting read that provided some useful insights! Would definitely recommend checking it out. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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Hmm... I really wish I had this guy's optimism... Although I must say, some of his comments on WW2 really don't seem fair, verging on naive. 

"And the mental devastation, then? What about the millions of traumatised victims the experts had warned about? Oddly enough, they were nowhere to be found."
If anyone has family that went through the war, they'll know that the trauma may not have put people in mental hospitals, but those poor men and women lived with the things they saw for life. 

Unfortunately this put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I hope others will appreciate his positive outlook though.
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This book is a rounded look at being human and what it means, it also looks at the traits often looked over. Kindness & cooperation are just as important as strength, intelligence and drive. Thoroughly readable and interspersed perfectly with anecdotes & the human touch to go with the science and research.
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Such an important book - one I'll be thinking about for a long time after reading, and no doubt go back to. Worth the hype!
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It took me a while to read Humankind but I persevered because it was just so good! It's clearly very well researched and easy to read.
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This was actually phenomenal and I’m not sure that I have the words to convey just how much of a “must-read” this is!

It discusses anthropology, the human condition and psychology. It looks at the true meaning of humankind & how the vast majority of humans are kind and good natured despite the cynical view that we can’t trust anyone.

I absolutely devoured this book and highlighted so much (via kindle) and I would love a physical copy to reread! I feel like it’s something that everyone could read over and over again and take something new from it.

It’s truly brilliant and opens us up to a hope for the future while also being honest about how society is and how it can seem like we’re all alone but we’re not!
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Are we too cynical about people’s motives? Are people all out to get one over on their fellow humans?This highly  engaging and readable book explores events through history that help argue the case for the greater goodness in humankind.
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A much needed book for this time. Shows that no matter what happens, the kindness and humanity of the human race always comes through. It inspired me to keep being a better person and that no matter how it seems, kindness will always prevail.
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For me this book started off well. I was interested in the sections about the historian Samuel Marshall and the statistics about war e..g 1% of fighter pilots responsible for 40% of planes brought down. I also enjoyed the section about Easter Island - something that I was intrigued by. This felt like when there was a satisfactory explanation of what led to a population decline, along came a better theory. I also liked the sections debunking what I learned in my psychology A level - revisiting the Stanford prison experiment and Milgram's experiment. I did feel however some of the stories were too anecdotal to support the substantial claims that were being made and were based on really small scale situations. I also found some parts fairly repetitive and unfortunately the second half didn't hold my attention as much as the first half.
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One of those books that has an immediately obvious and appealing theme- what if people are inherently good? It apparently flies against everything we see every day in the news, media, etc but Rutger Bregman methodically, engagingly and compellingly takes real life examples we are all familiar with and views them with a new and refreshingly optimistic perspective.
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I don't often read non-fiction.  For the most part I'd rather escape into a story, than read about something real.  But this sounded interesting, and during these times of Covid 19, I felt it was looking at something I had been thinking about myself - that people are, essentially, kind.
It's written in an easy to read way, and covers some really interesting experiments and ideas, talking about how things were when the experiments were originally run, and the problems with them.
I agree with the thoughts on the nature of the media today - it is deliberately inflammatory.  It exists to provoke emotion, and it can be exhausting.  I have stepped away from many news sources once again, as I can't take the endless pessimism.
I really believe in many of the things he discusses.  That people respond best when they are met with kindness and understanding.  That being open is better than immediately chastising someone or disagreeing with their views.  That when you praise children, they do better.  That educational systems at the moment are not working very well.  That society was in an absolute mess before this virus.
I felt real hope, in those early days of lockdown, that the world might finally change for the better.  That suddenly it was obvious who the key workers really were...the people who feed us, the people who protect us, the people who keep us well.  Caring, helpful, kind professions were the ones with value.  And those we rank high in society such as lawyers, bankers etc. were nowhere.  I really hoped that this would lead to a huge shift, across the whole world.  Because we stopped.  We stopped flying unnecessarily, we stopped using our cars unnecessarily.  We found that all those jobs where we'd been told we weren't allowed to work from home actually could be done from home.  And we saw help bursting up, rising up, from every community.  Mutual aid groups formed overnight, neighbours taking care of neighbours.  An outpouring of love.  We stayed at home, to keep everyone safe.

I feel more depressed at the desperate rush the government is in now to push things back to normal, without any real thought process as to how we could do things better.  But since they are run by money & power, it's no wonder they want the economy back on its feet, rather than thinking about how society could evolve from this point to be better.

Anyway, as you can see it made me think about a lot of different things.  I didn't always agree with absolutely everything in the book, but it was always interesting.  I came away from it feeling more hopeful, and conscious that small acts of kindness are still worth making, because the effects can ripple out in ways we can't even imagine.
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This is a fantastic read.

Bregman's premise is that humans are a pretty decent species, and not the monsters that the media portrays through dodgy reporting and dubious science. The sections where he tears into widely reported examples of human selfishness and aggression - such as the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Milgram experiment, the self-destruction of Easter Island, Kitty Genovese's murder (all of which I'd heard of and believed the established narratives) - was eye-opening and shocking, shocking in the sense that they're still being used today, decades later, in school text books.

Right now, where societal divisions are being utilised for politcal gain, and it's too easy accept that society would implode without the controlling hand of the state, it's refreshing to read that humands are better than that. Leaders have to try hard to instill the hatred that's the cancer of our current time, so when that leadership changes, there's hope for us all.

An excellent book, read it.
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