A Human History of Violence and Inequality
Are war and inequality inevitable, because evolution made men competitive and dominant? Think again with this entertaining yet powerful new history of ‘true’ human nature.
How did humans, a species that evolved to be cooperative and egalitarian, develop societies of enforced inequality? Why did our ancestors create patriarchal power and warfare? Did it have to be this way?
Elites have always called hierarchy and violence unavoidable facts of human nature. Evolution, they claim, has caused men to fight, and people—starting with men and women—to have separate, unequal roles. But that is bad science.
Why Men? tells a smarter story of humanity, from early behaviours to contemporary cultures. From bonobo sex and prehistoric childcare to human sacrifice, Joan of Arc, Darwinism and Abu Ghraib, this fascinating, fun and important book reveals that humans adapted to live equally, yet the earliest class societies suppressed this with invented ideas of difference. Ever since, these distortions have caused female, queer and minority suffering. But our deeply human instincts towards equality have endured.
This book is not about what men and women are or do. It’s about the privileges humans claim, how they rationalise them, and how we unpick those ideas about our roots. It will change how you see injustice, violence and even yourself.
‘A brilliant, funny, unputdownable book for our times, spectacularly puncturing dominant myths about human nature to explain how wealth creates war, why the “dark ages” weren’t so dark, and how we were once much less violent. Wonderful.’ — Danny Dorling, author of Peak Inequality
Nancy Lindisfarne is an anthropologist who previously studied and taught at SOAS University of London. Her most recent book, written with Richard Tapper, is Afghan Village Voices.
Jonathan Neale is an historian and professional writer. His most recent book is Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs.