“‘Right now, as you read this, somebody, somewhere, is planning a war’: from its opening sentence, Smith’s book demands the reader’s attention . . . a stark study of human nature, examining how we are biologically wired to fight. 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.’”
"Here is the unvarnished tale of human gangs, driven by built-in survival mechanisms and an uncanny ability for self-deception, romping through history--raiding, pillaging, terrorizing, waging wars, and committing large-scale atrocities in the name of abstract gods, holy lands, master races, and political systems. 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."
--Anouar Majid, author of FREEDOM AND ORTHODOXY: Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World
"Deftly combining concepts and analytical skills from traditional philosophy with an impressive grasp of contemporary science in several disciplines, Smith has produced a unique work that is at once chilling, invigorating, enlightening, and ultimately hopeful. Believing that truth is the best medicine, I recommend for every thinking person a full dose of this fiercely argued and deeply insightful book."
--Dale Peterson, author of Jane Goodall, The Deluge and the Ark, and co-author of Demonic Males
"In The Most Dangerous Animal, David Livingstone Smith illuminates an exceedingly dark subject: humankind's deep-seated penchant for war. The result is a discerning, insightful, highly original, and very disturbing book."--Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.
"A remarkable and accessible book that provides original and compelling insights into the human capacity for war. Professor Smith’s keen psychological analysis reveals how we unconsciously deploy self-deceptive strategies to override our horror at human bloodshed in order to indulge our universal penchant for inter-group violence. A must read for anyone interested in the psychological depths of human nature. "
–Barbara S. Held, Barry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies, Bowdoin College, author of Psychology’s Interpretive Turn: The Search for Truth and Agency in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
"This is a brilliant book. It weaves together a wealth of insights from science, history, literature, philosophy and contemporary affairs into an accessible, lucid, and cogently argued defense of the role of human nature in war."--Robert L. Holmes, Professor of Philosophy, University of Rochester, and author of On War and Morality