Magazine December 19, 2011, Issue

Be Nice!

Russian Su-30SM, Su-34, and Su-35S combat aircraft fly during an air parade on Victory Day, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2020. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker (Viking, 832 pp., $40)

In this, his most ambitious book to date, Steven Pinker describes, and attempts to explain, a curious historical phenomenon: the decline in all kinds of violence among human beings, from pre-civilized times to the present.

The first thing one wants to ask is: Has there actually been such a decline? Given the tremendous wars and political massacres of the 20th century, can it really be the case that man is less of a wolf to man in our own times than in Charlemagne’s, or Agamemnon’s?

Beginning with homicide, Pinker takes a broad statistical view, with humanity at large as the divisor in

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Books, Arts & Manners

Books

The Gonzo Files

A review of Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Jann S. Wenner.

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The Week

The Week

The case for Newt is that he’s nothing like that guy who used to be governor of Massachusetts. The case for Romney is very similar.

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