The Better Angels of Our Nature is severely compromised by an overly narrow conception of human violence, a cramped statistical source base, and ideologically predetermined interpretations. Despite its aspirations to comprehensive coverage, the work singularly fails to incorporate violence of a colonial, or indigenous, or environmental, or biological, or technological nature. Ultimately, Pinker’s lengthy, attention-grabbing tome is most noteworthy for what it leaves out.
Mark S. Micale is Professor of History at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. His fi elds of specialization are modern European intellectual history, post-Revolutionary France, the history of medicine and science, and masculinity studies. He is the author or editor of seven books, including Beyond the Unconscious, Discovering the History of Psychiatry, Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma in the Modern Age, 1870–1930, The Mind of Modernism, and Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness.