Peace on Earth
THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE:
Why Violence Has Declined.
By Steven Pinker.
Viking. 802 pp. $40
I recently visited Caquetá, one of the southernmost regions of Colombia, noted for its beautiful Amazonian landscape and its bitter armed conflict. For almost five decades, it has been the epicenter of violent confrontations between a long list of regular and irregular armed groups, with a frighteningly high murder rate and periodic civilian massacres the result. As a health worker in the region who deals with the consequences of violent conflict, I could not help feeling a touch of irony as I read Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, which examines how “the decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”
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Vaughan Bell is currently working for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) as mental health coordinator for Colombia. He is an honorary research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and is writing a book, The Enchanted Window: How Hallucinations Reveal the Hidden Workings of the Mind and Brain .more from this author >>