Such a wonderful, positive, book. History is not just one damn thing after another; with SP as your guide you can see it as a systematic journey from us being animals to us being (more or less) civilised. Pinker is such an academic that he never gets round to throwing his hat in the air and crowing about how great it is that there are actually reasons to be optimistic and to hope (against the pounding of the 24/7 TV news) that human moral thinking is developing alongside our visible technologies. Still, he does admit that it is p o s s i b l e we are not going to hell in a hand basket, as I previously thought. Bravo Steven!
Explains so many everyday 'true' observations, and ties them into a logical structure through the concept of 'essentialism'. So many ideas about why we value certain things, how we spend our time, what motivates and incentivises humans, that this book will become part of the permanent furniture of my mind long after I've forgotten the name Paul Bloom.
Mr Gladwell has collected an interesting set of anecdotes loosely connected to short time spans and pulls them together without much logic or structure and with many internal contradictions. Sometimes experts are people who have analysed their topic (e.g. food) so that they have access to their sub-conscious whereas non-experts flounder around with holistic impressions, sometimes experts have such finely tuned intuitions that they can instantly say that, for example, a statue is fake, but they have no access to the (highly trained) sub-conscious that tells them this. Ignore pedants like me, Mr Gladwell's amiable muddle-through will provide entertainment and food for thought (especially about prejudice) for any reader.
Despite listening to this book 3 times over now I still am at a loss for the correct words to describe just how much I love it! Etymology can often be a dry subject but Mark Forsyth shows a real love and appreciation for the neglected words of our language. I was surprised at how how funny this book is and immediately had to down load his second book The Horologycon which was just as interesting and just as funny :) Can't recommend them highly enough!!