The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki

The War for Kindness

Jamil Zaki

Written with clarity and passion, The War for Kindness is an inspiring call to action by Stanford psychiatrist Jamil Zaki.

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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. Isolation and tribalism are rampant. 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 is suffering from an “empathy deficit.” Since then, things only seem to have 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 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.

Advance praise for The War for Kindness

“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

“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

Advance Galley Reviews

While this book is mainly a textbook, filled with references to empathetic situations and individuals, I found it a fascinating 5 star read. It offers a compelling argument that for our society to heal & grow we must learn to empathize with fellow humans, increase our compassion and spend more of our time socializing face-to-face. As I hoped, it suggests radically decreasing the hours we spend on social media, since those interactions appear to parallel with an increased depression and feelings of isolation. Highly recommended reading in today’s world of senseless random acts of violence, ever increasing rates of teenage death by suicide and cyberbullying.

A timely book given the toxic climate in the USA.

Basically, be kind to others. Sometimes it can be hard but this book gives all the reasons why you should.


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