Richard Dawkins once wrote, "Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish." In Éamonn Toland's opinion, he was wrong.
The Pursuit of Kindness is an evolutionary history of human nature which provides compelling evidence from biology, psychology and archaeology that for 95 percent of the time we have walked the earth, survival of the fittest for our species has meant survival of the kindest. Archaeological evidence from the upper Paleolithic shows that inter-group conflict was minimal, and population density was very low. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably had high rates of punitive homicide, but a rudimentary moral sense is hard-wired in us all, even though it is very influenced by environmental factors thereafter.
The era of Brexit and Trump has laid bare how quickly cultural norms of tolerance that persisted for hundreds of years can be rapidly overturned when disaster strikes. People blame-storm and scapegoat immigrants, religious minorities and social misfits for all of society's ills. The author argues that we need to recognise what we have in common in order to nurture the pursuit of kindness.
Éamonn Toland read Modern History and Economics at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where he received a Lawlor Foundation Scholarship. After graduation, he worked as a management consultant with Accenture and McKinsey & Co., and as an entrepreneur and business executive. In addition to being a media spokesman for Accenture, he has written articles for the London Times and Telegraph, appeared in television shows and documentaries, and been a key speaker at numerous conferences. Together with his wife and son, he divides his time between Dublin, London and New York. The Pursuit of Kindness is his first book.
"Entertaining, accessible and important, The Pursuit of Kindness is set to be one of the most important books of 2021. [...] With this, his first book, Éamonn Toland has joined the ranks of Malcolm Gladwell and Steven Pinker."
– Seán Black, best-selling author of the Lockdown series
"[...] the case he makes is utterly convincing. The way he tells it, he is just following the science and, with echoes of cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, encourages us to resist our negativity bias."
– Irish Times
"The book is fundamentally optimistic, but it's an optimism that is deeply influenced by a reality that will grow increasingly dark, unless we are prepared to take active steps to improve it. [...] It's essential reading for anyone who cares about the past, but fears for the future."
– Francis Pryor MBE, Time Team archaeologist and author of Britain BC
"[...] an intriguing book about why we care about one another. Rich with stories, and fresh in its perspective, this book will make you think more about what it means to be human. The book is for everyone because everyone needs kindness."
– Fergus Shanahan, Emeritus Professor at UCC and author of The Language of Illness
"[...] gripping good read that leaves us both relieved and inspired to follow our natural instincts and work with each other for the common good."
– Alan Rinzler, Editor of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye