The Better Angels of Our Nature – Mark Zuckerberg’s book choice

The better angels of our nature: the decline of violence in history and its causesMark Zuckerberg’s second ‘A Year of Books’ book club selection is another non-fiction title – Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.  It jumped from No. 6,521 to No. 501 on Amazon just a few hours after the announcement.

Steven Pinker ‘argues that modernity and its cultural institutions are actually making us better people. He suggests that, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent over millennia and decades’. The book says violence has decreased in modern times and the world has become more humane. Zuckerberg said: “Recent events might make it seem like violence and terrorism are more common than ever, so it’s worth understanding that all violence — even terrorism — is actually decreasing over time. If we understand how we are achieving this, we can continue our path towards peace. A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they’ve ever read.”

The blank slate: the modern denial of human natureMicrosoft founder Bill Gates is also a fan and has called it his “favourite book of the last decade” and “a long but profound look at the reduction in violence and discrimination over time.” The book was widely discussed when it first came out in 2011, and also came in for some criticism.

Mark  Zuckerberg announced a couple of weeks ago that he would read a new book every other week in 2015 and invited all his Facebook friends to join him in discussing books online. His first choice, Moises Naim’s “The End of Power,” has become a best-seller on Amazon. “The Better Angels” is more than 800 pages long, so Zuckerberg says he will need a month to finish it but will recommend a shorter book in two weeks that can be read at the same time.

Only 162 comments have been posted for the book club chat on the community page which has more than 260,000 likes.

Steven Pinker, a psychologist, linguist and cognitive scientist who teaches at Harvard University, has written several popular books. “The Blank Slate” and “How the Mind Works,” were Pulitzer Prize finalists. His latest book is The sense of style: the thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century which uses the latest scientific insights to bring us a style and usage guide for the 21st century.