4 out of 4 stars
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Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths: From Alexander to Hitler to the Corporation is a non-fiction title written by Joseph Abraham. In a nutshell, Abraham argues that we are the product of a civilization fundamentally built by violent men. Throughout the book, the author, an evolutionary biologist and a physician, skillfully demonstrates that conquerors are vicious criminals who unabashedly rob and murder people.
As the book begins, it focuses on celebrated conquerors and cultures; it then moves to examine undisputed crimes against humanity. Thus, the author cleverly demonstrates how the pattern holds with all conquerors, regardless of how society rationalizes their deeds. Abraham then moves to dissect the modern exploiter. Today’s conqueror, he posits, seeks power and wealth in the opportunities afforded by the corporation, government, and bureaucracy.
What I liked the most about this book was that the author proposed and cleverly substantiated a remarkable thesis. I had often thought about these issues, although in a rather fragmented and unsure manner. Thus, I was thrilled when I saw this book. Abraham writes well and keeps readers hooked. Using eloquent and clever metaphors, the author makes a compelling case. For instance, he compares the pervasive culture of greed to jazz music, for everyone knows the tune and responds to the other players with no need for a centralized conductor. I also appreciated the emperor’s new clothes analogy to illustrate how we tend to blindly defer to authority and tradition and join the oppressor’s cult of personality.
Although brilliant, this is not, as one can imagine, a feel-good title, quite the contrary. It systematically presents ample evidence to corroborate its thesis, and it is, of course, quite disturbing. The book presents some of the worst atrocities of history, and there are some rather disturbing illustrations. For instance, I was shocked by the pictures of mutilated children from the Belgian Congo. For her scope of conquest and horror, he believes that Queen Victoria could be compared to Hitler. In the US, he mentions, for instance, the ruthless and vicious behavior of Puritans toward the Native Americans.
In conclusion, I found no noteworthy negatives in this eye-opening title. It seemed professionally edited, for I found no errors in it. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. Considering the recent events, especially the ongoing war in Ukraine, this is an indisputably timely book! I especially recommend it to readers interested in scientific analyses of historical and social patterns. Prospective readers, however, should be aware that this book contains a lot of violence, as one can imagine.
Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths
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