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What Makes a Hero?: The Surprising Science of Selflessness Hardcover – August 29, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Can you—can any ordinary person—learn to build on your natural biological endowments to turn yourself into a model of selflessness and service to others? Svoboda's question is straightforward, but the path to an answer winds from evolutionary biology and neuroscience to educational philosophy and psychology via anecdote and personal reflection. But while the journo makes some interesting points, there is nothing particularly new here. She summarizes the basic evolutionary explanation for altruism and describes some of the classic relevant neuroscience work; her two main points are that a selfless attitude can be cultivated through practice, and that learning about evil and kindness can prepare people to act heroically when opportunities present themselves. However, Svoboda presents little hard data to support her position, relying instead on anecdotes, interpretations of past studies, and personal experiences, such as having an MRI scan, attending a Real Life Superheroes gathering in New York City, and handing out small care packages to homeless people in San Francisco. (Purple prose doesn't help, either: Offered a meager gift and a little kindness, people the world had written off as hopeless opened up the way parched blooms do after a few drops of rain.) Agent: Joe Veltre, Gersh Agency. (Aug. 29)
“A satisfying investigation of the mechanics of heroism.”
“The world would be a better place if everyone read Elizabeth Svoboda’s fun, fascinating, and deeply researched book.”
—Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are interested in what makes people act heroically, this is an excellent starting point. You will learn many of the different theories and walk away with practical steps you can take as you journey along your heroic path and encourage others to do the same.
Did a more thorough view at [...]
The author goes on to relate many examples of selfless behaviour; the case studies make for touching and compelling stories even as they help us understand the psychological and sociological aspects of selflessness.
Finally, Svoboda concludes with some practical content on how we call can further cultivate selfless behaviour within ourselves--how to find the "hero" in each of us.