Get a free audiobook

Humankind

A Hopeful History
Narrated by: Rutger Bregman, Thomas Judd
Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
5 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

"The Sapiens of 2020." (The Guardian)

From the author of the New York Times best seller Utopia for Realists comes "the riveting pick-me-up we all need right now" (People), the number one Dutch best seller Humankind, which offers a "bold" (Daniel H. Pink), "extraordinary" (Susan Cain) argument that humans thrive in a crisis and that our innate kindness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in our long-term success on the planet.

"Humankind made me see humanity from a fresh perspective." (Yuval Noah Harari, author of the number one best seller Sapiens)

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad. It's a notion that drives newspaper headlines and guides the laws that shape our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.

But what if it isn't true? International best seller Rutger Bregman provides new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another. In fact this instinct has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of Homo sapiens

From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the solidarity in the aftermath of the Blitz, the hidden flaws in the Stanford prison experiment to the true story of twin brothers on opposite sides who helped Mandela end apartheid, Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic - it's realistic. Moreover, it has huge implications for how society functions. When we think the worst of people, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics. But if we believe in the reality of humanity's kindness and altruism, it will form the foundation for achieving true change in society, a case that Bregman makes convincingly with his signature wit, refreshing frankness, and memorable storytelling.

"I greatly enjoyed reading Humankind. It made me see humanity from a fresh perspective and challenged me to rethink many long-held beliefs. I warmly recommend it to others, and I trust it will stir a lot of fruitful discussions." (Yuval Noah Harari, author of the number one best seller Sapiens)

THE NUMBER ONE DUTCH BEST SELLER 

©2020 Rutger Bregman (P)2020 Little, Brown & Company

What the critics say

"Rutger Bregman's extraordinary new book is a revelation. Although Humankind is masterful in its grasp of history, both ancient and modern, the real achievement is Bregman's application of history to a new understanding of human nature. Humankind changes the conversation and lights the path to a brighter future. We need it now more than ever." (Susan Cain, author of the number one New York Times best seller Quiet)

"This stunning book will change how you see the world and your fellow humans. Humankind is mind-expanding and, more important, heart-expanding. We have never needed its message more than now." (Johann Hari, New York Times best-selling author of Lost Connections and Chasing the Scream

"An extraordinarily powerful declaration of faith in the innate goodness and natural decency of human beings. Never dewy-eyed, wistful or naive, Rutger Bregman makes a wholly robust and convincing case for believing - despite so much apparent evidence to the contrary - that we are not the savage, irredeemably greedy, violent, and rapacious species we can be led into thinking ourselves to be. Hugely, highly, and happily recommended." (Stephen Fry, author of Mythos and The Ode Less Travelled)

What listeners say about Humankind

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    24
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    20
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    20
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Both a perspective and life changing read!

I loved having been exposed to an uplifting view of humans that was backed by research and evidence. An important and life changing read!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous book

One of the best books I've read! Well-written and well narrated. Many surprises and interesting from start to finish.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Transformational

I will never look at people the same again. All the false narratives that have been created over the years to make us doubt and distrust other humans have been destroyed. Yes we aren’t perfect but we are all inherently good. We just need to believe it and act upon it. I’m going to do better. Thank you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amy
  • 2020-07-14

Must read

I would buy this book for every single person I know. It is well researched and presented. I have always generally felt that the world is full of good people and people are generally good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This narrator!

GOD so I want to hear this book, but after Rutger’s charming intro, a British robot takes over...! It’s impossible to listen to. I’m going to give it more time, but: hey Audible, Siri can read this well. Dreadful.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Adam S McConnell
  • 2020-06-19

Really good, but...

The book is fantastic, though I don't believe that the author could not have read (or if he did he didn't understand), "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.

He references Dawkins' book multiple times and claims that the book concludes with the idea that humans are inherently selfish. This is not the case and is a common misconception of the ideas put forward in the book popularized by media outlets looking for a story that sells - which is ironically something that Mr. Bregman derides in his book.

Part of "The Selfish Gene" is about a genetic basis for moral behavior and how the genes themselves are selfish. Not that the genes make the organisms (aka survival machines) they build inherently selfish.

This erroneous assumption/conclusion on the part of Bregman doesn't take away from the main drive of "Humankind," but it was like nails on a chalkboard for me to hear the erroneous conclusion throughout the book.

I highly reccomend reading both wonderful books for yourself.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joey Caster
  • 2020-06-08

I would have given 5 stars but...

This was an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The one thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars was the author’s hypocrisy. He states that there is good and kindness in everyone and that we need to just look for it. He states you can find good in “murderers, thieves and rapists” but when he speaks of Trump supporters he regards them as lost degenerates. He should practice what he is preaching in this book and look for the good in everyone... including Trump supporters.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • J.Michael Campbell
  • 2020-06-11

An epically important idea casually addressed here

The central premise is huge and defendable. We have built civilization around our weakest links and assume the worst of each other. It could be different. While I like a lot of of the data points the author brings to make this case, I find his style a little whimsical like reading a freshman year college journaling project. Some of the topics deserve more rigorous treatment. This book seems to me like a simple casual outline of the more powerful serious book it could have been and which the subject so richly deserves.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • trishH2O
  • 2020-06-07

Not What We Need

I truly love this concept. How to be kind and how we can rewrite our story.... if you are WHITE. This book does not help me do the work I need to be doing right now. It is from the white perspective. If you come from a place of privilege, you do not have the historical abuse, racism, suppression, injustice, .... As a white woman, I have the luxury to look at the world around me as an opportunity. Doors will open because of the color of my skin. As a woman, I do struggle, but I am still privileged. We need to listen to other voices right now. If you are reading this book, GOOD. But also look at other books that help be ANTI-RACIST. I recommend "My Grandmother's Hands" "How To Be An Antiracist." Mr. Bregman, thank you for your research and hard work, but right now we have other work to do.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alex Horovitz
  • 2020-06-10

Popper's Open Society meets Nicholas Nassim Taleb

I hate to say it, but if you fail to grasp the concepts being laid out here, you might just be stupid. Rutger Bregmank lays out the evidence (historical and otherwise) for the case that our worst fears about our fellow humans are largely unfounded. Worse, they are mostly made up without data and evidence to support them.

With all that is going on in the world, take the time to step back and challenge your negative assumptions of your fellow humans. Bregmank shows us the better Angeles of our nature is the rule not the exception. He lays to waste the notion that humans are innately selfish and greedy.

When it comes right down to it, almost all of us choose to help each other when we see someone in need. The myths perpetrated by political, economic, and religious leaders to the contrary serve only to maintain the power they hold over us. To borrow from "A Bug's Life" this is a book written for most of us (the ants) to remind us that, through our natural tendencies towards kindness, we are more powerful than them (the grasshoppers).

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clyde M. Boyer
  • 2020-06-21

Perfect book for an imperfect time

It takes courage to write a book this unabashedly optimistic. It helps that Rutger Bregman backs up his insights with a wealth of research. Maybe it's my own bias, but I feel we are at a tipping point and books like Humankind can help us tip the balance in the right direction.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-08-09

Good but repetitive

The narration is fine. Though super interesting, the content becomes repetitive. Most main points are hit over and over again. Better suited for a long article than a full-length book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jerome
  • 2020-08-08

Uplifting and refreshing

Wonderful to hear the proof and reinforce what so many of us optimists believe !

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • P
  • 2020-08-07

A much needed book right now!

I really needed this book to help restore my faith in humanity as I see my country torn apart by lies for someone’s own personal gain not caring what actual damage they are doing. For the book reveals the things we inherently know in our nature that humans want to do the right and good thing yet we are being “sold” something else by those (turns out to be very few who do believe) that they are selfish because everyone else is selfish.

Like his other book “Utopia for Realists” it is well researched and gives a hopeful in glimpse into what our country could be and has been studied and proven to work here and other countries. If we can only cut through the bureaucratic b.s. and propaganda that others spin due to their own prejudices. Most often the humane thing to do is also the least cost affective thing to do! Unfortunately, he has uncovered flaws in studies in the past that turned out to be inaccurate and had lead to bad consequences later that we are now trying to fix. If you actual dig far enough, you will understand how this book is very relevant right now. Especially, we can start reforming our policing by understanding how broken windows got us here.

With “Utopia for Realists” if we had UBI, guaranteed health care, education and a living wage we’d be well on our way to social and racial equality. You can’t just try and reform just one area. We must look at the whole picture. Americans need jobs. They need living wage paying jobs not two to three crappy paying full time jobs!!! They need health care without the constant fear that any sickness will get them A) Fired or B) Bankrupted. To reduce crime we need jobs and education. To reduce policing issues we need better training with smaller departments that look at people as people. So no, he doesn’t come out and tell us what to do and those that complain about that are totally missing the point. He shows us what can be and is working in other countries.

But mainly, the book has restored my faith that there can be hope for our fellow man who has been brainwashed into thinking their neighbors, fellow church members, high school alumni are now the enemy because of who they vote for. It’s time to start dropping the Christmas trees in the rallies and remember we succeed as a pack and not separated. It’s time to stop trolls and the hate and start seeing your fellow human as human.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dylan
  • 2020-08-05

Dissolved my cynicism

Somewhere between a millennial and gen Z I grew up a middle-class student of public schooling in the United States. Add in some high school anxiety and lack of individual counseling and my world view was for from realistic. The way Bregman breaks down famous cases, from sociological experiments to large-scale global affairs, is truly unraveling in the sense. Much of these I remember being taught in my HS psychology class and it gave me quite a dim view of strangers. I enjoyed the healthy and transparency he engaged in for citing sources and in reasoning. For those suffering their own doubts during the pandemic, Bregman offers solutions that currently exist and what could be achievable in the very near future. Reinventing what it means to be a realist. I've listened to this book twice. I think its message should be on the desk of every student in the United States at the very least or implemented in said schools. The U.S has a lot to learn if we want to continue. Children are the future. This kind of thinking is the future if we are to go on. We must go on.