From Publishers Weekly
The authors' hearts are in the right place with this earnest plea to all mankind to develop empathy and embrace the interdependency that connects us all. Ehrlich (The Population Bomb) and Ornstein (The Healing Brain) argue that human behavior is the biggest threat to our collective future and strongly suggest we create less "us" vs. "them" binaries. From environmental conservation to ending consumerism to the pervasive ignorance that feeds xenophobia, they approach their focus through the lenses of anthropology, neuropsychology, and history. The message is repetitive and, while the book promises to offer practical ideas, it often instead provides obvious claims: "There are a lot of big changes needed…" As with all ideas for peace and justice that rightfully stem from understanding that human beings want to be happy, the real challenges come after the preaching to the choir is done. Most readers will already agree with the authors' thesis, and it's hard to imagine that those who might benefit most from what the authors have to say—corporate America, NeoCons, the Taliban, for starters—will listen. (Oct.)
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Ehrlich, the author of numerous influential environmental books, and award-winning psychologist Ornstein address the need for empathy to maintain the health of civilization. While drawing on a long line of psychological experiments to show the inherent development of family ties and persistent “us vs. them” mentality in human society, the authors also examine the development of the perfect Leave It To Beaver family stereotype and its enduring impact that has extended far beyond pop culture. A focus on family values that never actually existed, this has created a myth that justifies the concept of a different “them” that thwarts attempts at transcending differences. With stark examples such as Rwanda to serve as warnings, Ehrlich and Ornstein segue into chapters on “building the global family.” While political watchers may find it impossible to believe we could ever see beyond the smallest of differences, the authors remain hopeful and offer plenty of evidence that change will come, simply because the twenty-first century requires it. Thoughtful and sincere, this is a solid evidentiary presentation of an all-too-often emotional topic. --Colleen Mondor