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From the authors of New York Times bestseller The Genius of Dogs comes a new popular science book about how 'friendliness' is in fact the key factor in the survival of our species. In exploring this hugely ambitious topic, Hare and Woods present an elegant new theory called self-domestication, looking at animal (mainly dog and ape) examples of cooperation and empathy and what this can tell us about the evolutionary success of Homo sapiens… It has huge implications for our society today.
Brian Hare is a professor at the department of evolutionary anthropology and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. He has a BA in Anthropology and Psychology from Emory University, and a PhD from Harvard University in Biological Anthropology. He is the founder of the Hominoid Psychology Research Group and also the Duke Canine Cognition Center.
Vanessa Woods is a research scientist at Duke University and an award-winning journalist who has written for publications including New Scientist, BBC Wildlife and Australian Geographic. She also writes features for the Discovery Channel. Alongside her award-winning children's books, she is the author of the memoirs Bonobo Handshake (2011) and It's Every Monkey for Themselves (2007).
"Brilliant, eye-opening, and absolutely inspiring – and a riveting read. Hare and Woods have written the perfect book for our time."
– Cass Sunstein, author of How Change Happens and co-author of Nudge
"An utterly persuasive explanation for why the human psyche has evolved to be dangerous – and what to do about it. It should be read by every politician and every school-child."
– Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox: How Evolution Made Us More and Less Violent
"Please read this beautiful, riveting, and uplifting book. You will learn the astonishing story of how and why humans evolved a deep impulse to help total strangers but also sometimes act with unspeakable cruelty. Just as importantly, you'll learn how these insights can help all of us become more compassionate and more cooperative."
– Daniel E. Lieberman, author of The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease and Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding
"Very few books even attempt to do what this book succeeds in doing. It begins in basic behavioural science, proceeds to an analysis of cooperation (or lack thereof) in contemporary society, and ends with implications for public policy. Everyone should read this book."
– Michael Tomasello, author of Origins of Human Communication and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University
"Survival of the Friendliest is a fascinating counterpoint to the popular [mis]conception of Darwin's 'survival of the fittest.' Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods offer a convincing case that it was not brute strength, raw intelligence, or ruthlessness that allowed modern humans to thrive while our hominin relatives died out. Instead, they argue that friendliness was the key to our flourishing – and that the same kind of cooperative communication is the key to freeing us from the tribalism currently threatening democratic governance around the world. Powerful, insightful, accessible – this book gives me hope."
– Megan Phelps-Roper, author of Unfollow
"How can a top predator like the wolf have evolved to become 'man's best friend'? Finally a book that explains in the clearest terms how friendliness and cooperation shaped dogs and humans. This book left me with a happy and optimistic view of nature."
– Isabella Rossellini, actress and activist