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Humankind

A Hopeful History
Narrated by: Rutger Bregman, Thomas Judd
Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times best seller

"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.

©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

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Just Amazing!!!

Best society book ever! If you are tired of failing your family, team and or company, please read this book and stop the nonsense.

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Mandatory listening for 2020

I've become an evangelical for this book. It's fantastic. Everyone needs this in their life.

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Revolutionary

If only this were required reading, translated in every language. What a wonderful storyteller, who makes history accessible and interesting. I would have liked if Rutger Bregman read it

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WOW!!!!

Phenomenal book - it left me with a deep warmth and knowing goosebumps as it ended. Make sure to read the entire book. Brilliant and uplifting!! If this was mandatory in human history education, there would be an upswell in the knowing of our true and beautiful potential as a species. Thank you Rutger.

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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!

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Fabulous book

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

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • 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

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  • 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).

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jacob
  • 2020-07-25

Great premise - missed the point

Overall, the book highlights some brilliant and beautiful aspects of humanity that are mostly misunderstood by us all. Humanity is significantly and profoundly more beautiful than it gives itself credit for being. This book’s premise is one that has the highest potential for profoundly and positively impacting humanity. Such tremendous potential and SO close - but this guy blows it by not hearing even his own words. It starts with - the media is the most negative and damaging influence on modern human society. This is absolutely true, and he backs it up with science. Awesome start. Then, he proceeds to show absolute unquestioned devotion to false ideals that have been programmed into his psyche exclusively by this destructive media. Oops. He correctly identifies that most evil is perpetrated with good intentions, but fails to identify it as a core teaching of the Satanic church (more on This in a second, but I’m guessing that like most, he’s a consumer of the teachings without ever becoming familiar with the source). The rest of his many anti-religion stances are media-created and educationally reinforced - given his complete lack of ability to differentiate religious ideologies. On contact and bigotry, he shows the beauty of humanity - Backs it with science that is intriguing and solid and the best read in this book. But then he blows it with his his own ignorance. He’s obviously had zero contact with the average American as he foolishly demonizes (en masse) all American Trump supporters. Gee, who programmed that into him? It couldn’t have been that dangerous media he was just talking about... Back to railing on religion he goes, which is awesome because he then proceeds to demonstrate that he has zero understanding of Islam the ideology vs Muslim people (two related, but VERY different things). Back to his jaded and misinformed views on America, the southern border states in the US are hugely in favor of a secure wall - even on the Mexican side of the border. Again, his media has fed him limited and false information and he’s had zero contact. His demographic assumptions about where Trump supporters reside is flawed based on his own negative assumptions about race in rural America (he’s been programmed to be very racist and is completely oblivious - so much so that it is almost humorous). In the WWI Christmas miracle discussion, he mentions the “fake news” propaganda that was overcome when the Brits actually met the Germans. The media had falsely enraged them. “I really think much of our news has been greatly exaggerated,” said a British soldier in his story. Yet the author is woefully unaware of the fact that the same has happened to him. In his discussion of the 1914 and subsequent Christmas miracles, his anti-religion programming has him walk right past the basis of the ideals of Christmas - in that they come from the teachings of Christ. The author has no ability to see the differences between Christianity and religions/ideologies incompatible with its ideals. It’s quite sad, actually. His 10 lessons for life: 1. Assume the best...? Does he regarding the average American Trump voter? Or for President Trump? 2. Think in win/win...? Doing good feels good, yet he again spews misplaced venom towards President Trump who espouses the EXACT same philosophy in the book he demonizes, but clearly failed to read. 3. Ask more questions...? This author’s hubris is disgusting. He preaches as if he knows all and needs to ask nothing of the rest of us. 4. Temper your empathy...? Feel for them, not with them. Okay. Compassion motivates. Interesting. I like this point actually. I’ll put some thought here. I may take away something positive. Yay. 5. Try to understand...? He should go to Oklahoma and have some proximity contact with middle America. Tamp those emotions and seek to understand - the author demonstrates a complete absence of this ability while simultaneously preaching that we should. 6. Love your own as others love their own...? Evil does it’s work from a distance. The author is Dutch. He needs to read the real facts in his book and skip his own sermons. Do not assume that we are all the same. Most are, but we are aligned by our Christian values ingrained in our society. Those outside that ideology who adhere to ideals incompatible are NOT the same. (Go read An Infidel’s Guide to the Quran.) 7. Avoid the news!!!? Great advice. I wish he had heard it for himself. He appears incapable. 8. Don’t punch Nazis...? This guy shouldn’t punch anyone. He obviously has zero ability to discern friend from foe. He appears to have had his ability to reason stolen by the very fake news he tells us not to listen to. 9. Come out and don’t be ashamed to do good...? Basically - Be humble. Yep. But let your light shine. Yep. Good deeds have ripple effects. I love this. 10. Be realistic. Actually realistic, not a hater. I love this, too. Such great promise. The premise of this book is outstanding and certainly worthy of a better effort. But, the author failed his readership by not hearing his own words. Epic fail. This needs to be scrapped re-attempted. If he wants to follow his own conclusions, he can impact the world with what is touched on here. Unfortunately, he missed it on the first shot. I’m hoping there’s a second attempt. Critique by: FireBird21Solutions@gmail.com

2 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • DocWhite
  • 2020-10-27

Human Kind

what is it like to be a human. Read and find out what you don't know or thought thought you knew.

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  • Katrina VT
  • 2020-10-13

Extraordinary despite flaws

This book presents powerful evidence for a positive view of men, that they are essentially good. It’s uplifting. Would benefit from 20% fewer words but so worth reading/listening nevertheless.

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  • Amazon Customer deena gard
  • 2020-10-11

Names names

A pop revelation, this succinct masterpiece convincingly & excitingly argues for friendliness-supremacy without being too friendly to the scholarship of big name authors (much of whose work is carefully & specifically debunked in Bregman's account of his own journey from Hobbes to Rousseau). Judd & Bregman are both easy to listen to, but even if they weren't, you want to listen to this if you have any interest in societal forces, or in witnessing a paradigm shift.