Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Humanity—A Moral History Of The 20th Century Tops Weekend Reading

This weekend, which is expected to bring yet more rain to Houston, I’ll be re-reading portions of Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover.

This book was published in 1999. 

Humanity is about the process by which people become able to do terrible things to one another. It is not a cheery book. 

Humanity offers insight into how certain ethnic groups or followers of a specific religion become vulnerable to violence. The author contends that violence often follows a process of dehumanization in which targeted people are portrayed as less than human or dangerously alien to prevailing norms. 

It was, in part, nastiness directed at Republicans, and some Democrats as well, on a few left-leaning blogs I’ve read that led me to pick up the book again. Anyone who thinks their side of the political debate is benign by nature has it wrong. 

can’t recommend Humanity strongly enough.   

Here is the New York Times review of the book.

July 13, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Reading Lists


  1. Anyone who thinks their side of the political debate is benign by nature has it wrong.

    It could not have been said any better than this my friend.

    Neil, if I may interject a quote from CS Lewis regarding the”hopeless attempt… that we call human history”,

    Terrific energy is expended–civilisations are built up–excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans

    Forgive me for taking a quote mid-argument (he makes a good one) but to clarify things a bit, Lewis talking about the sin of pride in the last sentence of the above quote.

    Lewis defines it as,

    putting yourself first–wanting to be the centre–wanting to be God, in fact

    This material comes from his book, Mere Christianity which, of course, I most heartily recommend.

    Comment by Laz | July 14, 2007

  2. Laz–You know I’m not religious. But I’ll say that what you talk about is kindred to what M.L. King called “man-centered foolisheness.” I know my Martin Luther King.

    What about my buddy Thomas Merton? Your cup of tea at all?

    Thanks for your ongoing comments on the blog.

    Comment by neilaquino | July 14, 2007

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