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The tone of this book is consistently optimistic and positive. It is a great antidote to the doom and gloom that we are constantly bombarded with by the media. It is nevertheless scholarly and credible. It revisits key cultural events that have shaped our perceptions and typically finds there is a more positive story lurking in the wings. He compares the Lord of the Flies novel with an actual example of a group of boys stranded on a desert island, with the latter developing a functioning set of rules for cooperation and conflict management. He revisits famous psychological experiments like the Milgram electrical shock study and the Zimbardo's Prisoner experiment and finds evidence of resistance to doing bad things to other people. He describes how in warfare many rifles are never fired or bayonets plunged into the enemy. Most deaths are due to weapons fired at a distance, like bombs and artillery. This book engages your critical faculties, but leaves you feeling more hopeful about humanity.
I was holding myself back, thinking that some people could do things against you. When you think of the odds of them doing bad things versus good things it is a no-brainer to think that people will do good things. Love how he is able to show you both sides of the story.
Thank you Rutger Bregman you have restored my faith in all that is good in our society and us humans. I feel this book will become a clarion call to all of us that need a reminder of our humanity and compassion for each other.
Also need to praise Thomas Judd for another excellent narration job. It really helps to have great narrators for such seminal works like this.
William Golding’s ugly vision of stranded children turning feral/murderous never convinced me - but to find that it was actually from the tormented brain of a man who had passed through the terrors of a bullying British boarding school made complete sense. I have found that introducing myself to my classes and using strategies to allow my students to get to know each other means a co-operative group dynamic. And yes, forecasting bright futures and praise and kindness allow all students to shine.
Rutger Bregman is the man for our times. I recognised almost every “fact” about which he wrote - and then was shocked at the way reports and studies had been manipulated and distorted to prove the opposite and negatively pessimistic view of human beings and their motivations - to serve business and political ends. If Minneapolis in this time of George Floyd can dismiss their largely racist police force and invest the money in community-based and community-serving systems - this book will surely be an important guide.
This is an uplifting and hopeful book which has arrived at just the right time to lift spirits and to increase solidarity. It picks interesting and varied case studies to make its points, arguing the central thesis that even in what appear to be the worse situations, humans kind nature always bobs to the surface. I am enjoying reading it, however it is not really an academic text, more a text written for the popular market. It is painted in broad brushstrokes and there is a lack of nuance. Each case study seems to follow the same story arc of an incident of human cruelty being subverted to reveal an underlying human kindness in quite an artificial way in places. For instance in introducing the horror of the German concentration camps it asks how this could have happened in one of the most wealthy and advanced countries of the world. This is inaccurate though. Germany immediately before the war was in the grip of a worldwide depression and poor through paying war reparations in the aftermath of WW1. This was part of the socio-economic situation that allowed the National Socialists to rise to power. Rutger is a great storty-teller, though not a historian. A good book, though not wholly as nuanced as it could be.
An interesting read but the author didn't convince me of mankind's goodness. My own experience tells me that Homo puppy (author's terminology) is anything but. He also left out of his book the sorry tale of the mutineers of the Bounty who sailed to Pitcairn island. Within a few years half of the men had been murdered by the other half, the remainder murdered by the women who sailed to Pitcairn with them, only one of the mutineers survived. And yes, this remaining mutineer did influence in a positive way the children of the mutineers born on the island who by all accounts were found living peacefully with each other 17 years after the mutineers landed there. But the mutineers did not revert to 'homo puppy' there, despite no longer being 'under the lash', no pooling resources, no co-operation, just suspicion, hatred and jealousy and finally murder most foul. Perhaps they were just a bad lot and they are the exception to the rule as espoused by the author but my experience of 70 years of other peoples selfish nature is at odds with his research.
Arrived today. I've only read three chapters and its a joy. Humanity really is good, its lovely to read it in black and white! Obviously I need to finish this ASAP and complete the review however, go buy it, you won't regret it. Cogent, powerful argument backed up with meticulous research. Best buy this year.
A truly wide-ranging book on the true nature of human nature. I read his previous book; 'Utopia for Realists', in a few days, simply because Bregman's writing style is so inviting. This is no exception, a true joy to read and with double the pages of his previous.
PS. there's a missing word on page 253, - Bloomsbury should probably get that fixed.