MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of The Kindness of Strangers by Michael McCullough

The Kindness of Strangers

How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code

by Michael E. McCullough

The Kindness of Strangers by Michael E. McCullough X
The Kindness of Strangers by Michael E. McCullough
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jul 21, 2020, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A sweeping psychological history of human goodness -- from the foundations of evolution to the modern political and social challenges humanity is now facing.

How did humans, a species of self-centered apes, come to care about others? Since Darwin, scientists have tried to answer this question using evolutionary theory. In The Kindness of Strangers, psychologist Michael McCullough shows why they have failed and offers a new explanation instead. From the moment nomadic humans first settled down until the aftermath of the Second World War, our species has confronted repeated crises that we could only survive by changing our behavior. As McCullough argues, these choices weren't enabled by an evolved moral sense, but with moral invention--driven not by evolution's dictates but by reason.

Today's challenges -- climate change, mass migration, nationalism -- are some of humanity's greatest yet. In revealing how past crises shaped the foundations of human concern, The Kindness of Strangers offers clues for how we can adapt our moral thinking to survive these challenges as well.

CHAPTER 1
A GOLDEN AGE OF COMPASSION

This book is about one of the great zoological wonders of the world. I'm not talking about the tears of the elephant, the smile of the dolphin, the politics of the chimpanzee, the consciousness of the octopus, the peacock's tail, the kingdom of the ants, or the wisdom of the birds or the bees or the dogs. I'm talking about a scrawny, brainy ape with the habit of helping strangers—often risking time and treasure and occasionally even life and limb to do so. It's about you and me, and how we treat everybody else. It's about the kindness of strangers.

When it comes to compassion for strangers, the human species is in a class of its own. Chimpanzees, like humans, regularly help kith and kin, but the number of chimpanzees who dive into swollen rivers to save drowning strangers, or send food to families of needy chimps in Tanzania, or perform weekend volunteer work at chimpanzee retirement homes, is zero. Year after year after year after year (do ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A deliciously provocative analysis of an entirely admirable human quality.

Author Blurb Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save and The Most Good You Can Do
A fine achievement. McCullough expertly braids together the distinctive strands of evolutionary psychology, history, and philosophy to explore and explain a characteristic unique to our stage of development: kindness to strangers. An important book that looks at the whole of human history, and more, and thereby offers a valuable counterweight to the all-too-common view that everything is getting worse.

Author Blurb Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox
Enlightened by evocative anecdotes and well-explained theory, The Kindness of Strangers is as original as it is persuasive.

Author Blurb Paul Bloom, author of Against Empathy
This is a controversial book, but McCullough's arguments are smart, clear, and ultimately persuasive.

Author Blurb Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now
An inspiring and engrossing new look at human goodness. Without sentimentality or glibness, and wearing his depth and erudition lightly, McCullough enlightens us on when and why we care for others.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Kindness of Strangers, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Delayed Rays of a Star
    by Amanda Lee Koe
    Amanda Lee Koe's Delayed Rays of a Star begins with a late-1920s photo of three women at a party in ...
  • Book Jacket: Sleepovers
    Sleepovers
    by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
    In Ashleigh Bryant Phillips' debut story collection, Sleepovers, it can be difficult to keep tabs on...
  • Book Jacket
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    by Christy Lefteri
    In Christy Lefteri's sophomore novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the author introduces readers to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Cantoras
    by Carolina De Robertis
    Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis follows five characters who share a house, troubles, joys and parts...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Voyage of the Morning Light
    by Marina Endicott

    A sweeping novel set aboard a merchant ship sailing through the South Pacific in 1912.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Of Bears and Ballots

An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics

A charming account of holding local office with an entertaining, quirky cast of characters.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S Louder T W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

 



© BookBrowse LLC 1997-2020. All rights reserved. Information at BookBrowse.com is published with the permission of the copyright holder or their agent.
It is forbidden to copy anything for publication elsewhere without written permission from the copyright holder.