It tells the story of why all human beings have the potential to be hideously cruel and destructive to one another.
- The Most Dangerous Animal | David Livingstone Smith | Macmillan.
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Why are we our own worst enemy? The book shows us that war has been with usin one form or anothersince prehistoric times, and looking at the behavior of our close relatives, the chimpanzees, it argues that a penchant for group violence has been bred into us over millions of years of biological evolution. The Most Dangerous Animal takes the reader on a journey through evolution, history, anthropology, and psychology, showing how and why the human mind has a dual nature: on the one hand, we are ferocious, dangerous animals who regularly commit terrible atrocities against our own kind, on the other, we have a deep aversion to killing, a horror of taking human life.
Meticulously researched and far-reaching in scope and with examples taken from ancient and modern history, The Most Dangerous Animal delivers a sobering lesson for an increasingly dangerous world. Smith's writing, reinforced by one grim example after another, is crisp and sobering, never blunting the fact that we are 'our own worst enemy'. David Livingstone Smith knows evolutionary biology, and history,and psychology, and philosophy, and anthropology, and has put them together to produce a riveting, unflinching and disturbingly accurate account of human warfare, from the "commanded wars" of the Old Testament to Bush's Blunder in Iraq.
David Smith's rapid-fire account of our uniquely lethal nature makes a mockery of our dreams for peace. We could always try, though, but seeing ourselves as we truly are is a necessary first step. This book shows us how.
David Livingstone Smith has provided a cogent answer to the deeper why question of war; not why Iraq? Smith's answer--that war is buried deep in our evolutionary past--will be controversial, but his case is irrefutable. We have seen the enemy in the mirror, and until we gather the courage to accept our true nature, men will fight and people will die. Every politician should read this book before deciding on war.
The result is a discerning, insightful, highly original, and very disturbing book. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues.
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