The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World (Hardcover)
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“In this masterpiece, Jamil Zaki weaves together the very latest science with stories that will stay in your heart forever.”—Angela Duckworth, author of Grit
Empathy is in short supply. We struggle to understand people who aren’t like us, but find it easy to hate them. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. In 2006, Barack Obama said that the United States was suffering from an “empathy deficit.” Since then, things seem to have only gotten worse.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In this groundbreaking book, Jamil Zaki shares cutting-edge research, including experiments from his own lab, showing that empathy is not a fixed trait—something we’re born with or not—but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. He also tells the stories of people who embody this new perspective, fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances. We meet a former neo-Nazi who is now helping to extract people from hate groups, ex-prisoners discussing novels with the judge who sentenced them, Washington police officers changing their culture to decrease violence among their ranks, and NICU nurses fine-tuning their empathy so that they don’t succumb to burnout.
Written with clarity and passion, The War for Kindness is an inspiring call to action. The future may depend on whether we accept the challenge.
Praise for The War for Kindness
“A wide-ranging practical guide to making the world better.”—NPR
“Relating anecdotes and test cases from his fellow researchers, news events and the imaginary world of literature and entertainment, Zaki makes a vital case for ‘fighting for kindness.’ . . . If he’s right—and after reading The War for Kindness, you’ll probably think so—Zaki’s work is right on time.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“In this landmark book, Jamil Zaki gives us a revolutionary perspective on empathy: Empathy can be developed, and, when it is, people, relationships, organizations, and cultures are changed.”—Carol Dweck, author of Mindset
About the Author
Jamil Zaki is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.
“Lucid, stimulating . . . [The War for Kindness aims] to challenge antiquated views of the brain and human behavior. . . . Zaki issues a call for concerted action to build empathy in a world he sees as fractured and threatened by escalating tribalism, cruelty, and isolation.”—The American Scholar
“Zaki is a compelling writer, and even an android could not help but respond to his prose. . . . Zaki’s goals go beyond sharing the science of empathy with the masses. He hopes to inspire people to actually practice more kindness in their lives.”—Science
“Zaki’s heart-of-the-matter writing style relates complex emotion in clear, direct language. He walks his own fine line, between significant research findings and his personal emotional and empathic responses. His research and his book are worthy.”—Booklist
“With alarming evidence of our society's rapidly diminishing empathy, Zaki draws on decades of clinical research, along with experiments conducted at his lab, to consider the forces that impact our modern condition . . . an urgent message.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Jamil Zaki is one of the brightest lights in psychology, and in this gripping book he shows that kindness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength.”—Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and Originals
“Beautifully written and deeply felt, The War for Kindness is an outstanding scientific analysis of our species’ best and last hope for survival—our unique ability to care about each other.”—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Seamlessly stitching together his own experiences with fascinating stories and research from around the globe, Jamil lays out the irrefutable evidence for what we may already instinctively be sensing . . . that in these uncertain times, our ability to cultivate empathy for one another is not only possible, it’s necessary. A must read for anyone willing to peek under the hood of the human heart.”—Amanda Palmer