INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. "The Sapiens of 2020."---The Guardian From the author of the New York Times bestseller Utopia for Realists comes "the riveting pick-me-up we all need right now" (People), the #1 Dutch bestseller Humankind, which offers a "bold" (Daniel H. Pink), "extraordinary" (Susan Cain) argument that humans thrive in a crisis and that our innate kindness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in our long-term success on the planet. "Humankind made me see humanity from a fresh perspective." ---Yuval Noah Harari, author of the #1 bestseller Sapiens
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.
Dutch historian Bregman (Utopia for Realists) 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, Bregman reevaluates some of the most entrenched cultural narratives suggesting otherwise. For example, six Tongan boys shipwrecked on an island in the 1960s didn't beat each other senseless la William Golding's characters in The Lord of the Flies but lived harmoniously until their rescue a year later. Bregman also revisits the Stanford Prison Experiment (researchers muddled the study by ensuring that students chosen as guards would be cruel to those posing as prisoners) and the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, in which 37 bystanders supposedly heard her cries for help but failed to intervene (Bregman offers evidence that several people actually did call the police, and that one of Kitty's neighbors ran directly to her aid). He even attempts to fold the Holocaust into his theory, but his explanation that the Nazis "believed they were on the right side of history" fails to either hearten or persuade. Overall, however, 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.