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Less Than Human

Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others

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Description

Winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction

A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as today's headlines

"Brute." "Cockroach." "Lice." "Vermin." "Dog." "Beast." These and other monikers are constantly in use to refer to other humans--for political, religious, ethnic, or sexist reasons. Human beings have a tendency to regard members of their own kind as less than human. This tendency has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible, and yet we still find it in phenomena such as xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, and racism. Less Than Human draws on a rich mix of history, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it.

David Livingstone Smith posits that this behavior is rooted in human nature, but gives us hope in also stating that biological traits are malleable, showing us that change is possible. Less Than Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as timely as it is relevant.

Publishers Weekly Review

Dec 13, 2010 – Smith (The Most Dangerous Animal), cofounder and director of the Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology at the University of New England, interrogates why man alone, in Mark Twain's words, can go "forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind." Smith explores the ancient practice of labeling rival tribes; specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups; and species as undeserving of compassion. He is intent on untangling the mystery of dehumanization: it's insufficient to merely demonize the criminals, he argues; we must understand why, say, the Nazis believed they had a "moral duty" to annihilate the Jews. He looks into possible biological bases, psychological and developmental roots, clues in paleolithic art, and how, over the ages, philosophers and artists have criticized or goaded on the practice. Vivid and horrifying examples of incidences (and consequences) of the harassment, torture, and extermination of certain groups saturate the book—from the European decimation of indigenous peoples in the Americas to Israeli soldiers' attacks on Palestinian children. Smith's compelling study and his argument that the study of dehumanization be made a global priority to prevent future Rwandas or Hiroshimas is well-made and important.

Customer Reviews

Another Great Book

This gets in detail about how people are able to dehumanize people and justify crimes committed against them. If after reading the sample it does not interest you then don't get it. I read the sample and after finishing that ordered the book. As for what could be better I would put that I wish it was longer. Being longer to list more examples and give more information about this subject. Its good though and hope to see more from the Author on this.

Less Than Human
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Life Sciences
  • Published: Mar 01, 2011
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 250 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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