The Better Angels of Our Nature
Why Violence Has Declined
Viking, $40, 832 pp.
Conquest, War, Famine, and Death—except for the last, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse have lost their ability to terrify us. They have been reduced, as a Google search will swiftly demonstrate, to metaphors for bad habits in personal relationships: “criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.” But for most of human history, the horsemen’s shadows were never far from the horizon; being overrun by a conquering army, caught up in the lethal chaos of war, or perishing from hunger...
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