Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman

Second paragraph of third chapter:
En de mens? Die verscheen op 31 december ten tonele, rond 11 uur ’s avonds. Toen hebben we eerst nog een uurtje als jagers en verzamelaars rondgetrokken, om op het laatste moment, rond 23.58 uur, de landbouw uit te vinden. In de zestig seconden voor middernacht voltrok zich alles wat we ‘geschiedenis’ noemen. Met piramides en kastelen, ridders en jonkvrouwen, stoommachines en vliegtuigen. And we humans? We made our entrance on 31 December, at approximately 11 p.m. Then we spent about an hour roaming around as hunter-gatherers, only getting around to inventing farming at 11:58 p.m. Everything else we call 'history' happened in the final sixty seconds to midnight: all the pyramids and castles, the knights and ladies, the steam engines and rocket ships.
Edited to add, some months later: interesting that the “aeroplanes”, “vliegtuigen”, at the end of the original paragraph were replaced by “rocket ships” for the English translation.

At the end of last year I read and largely enjoyed Bregman's Utopia for Realists. This has a grander sweep - the story of how humanity is much nicer and well-intentioned than people think. With some detail, he debunks the Stanford prison experiment, the Milgram electric shock experiment, and the Kitty Genovese case; and looks at the true story of the shipwrecked kids who failed to go Lord of the Flies and at various other statistics supporting his thesis. Fundamentally I want to agree with the book; I'd much rather that people are nice to each other. And mostly it's convincing; what is lacking is an answer to the Problem of Evil, though I guess that the point of the book is more the Invisible Prevalence of Good. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired last year and also my top uread non-fiction book. Next on those lists respectively are Time Must Have a Stop, by Aldous Huxley, and Paul: A Biography by Tom Wright.
Tags: bookblog 2021, writer: rutger bregman

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