2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
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Praise from Authors & Reviewers
I’ve always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it wasn’t? What if it was built on insanity?”
—Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test
The term ‘must-read’ has been so overused. But Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths is a must-read… must-own… and, most of all, a must-ponder.”
—San Diego Jewish World
Abraham makes an insightful, novel argument based on both a keen clinical eye, and an exhaustive review of the literature, for understanding the historical and genetic roots of this problem, and why we should be aware of the potential dictators all around us.”
—James Fallon, Sloan Scholar, Senior Fullbright Fellow, NIH Career Awardee, UCI Medical School Professor Emeritus, The Psychopath Inside
A detailed and engaging examination of our haunted past and threatening future. Read it and weep.”
—John Mack Faragher, Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus, Yale University, Daniel Boone; A Great and Noble Scheme; and The American Heritage Encyclopedia of American History
If you are at all interested in politics and in the future of our country and, indeed, the future of mankind, this may be the most important book you will ever read.”
—Robin Levin, The Death of Carthage
It’s always easier to turn away from the horrors of history, but Abraham forces us to look, and look carefully. Using wide-ranging research and an unflinching eye for detail, he reminds us that it’s only through the stories of the past that we can understand where we’ve come from, what we’ve become, and how we can even hope to effect change.”
—Candice Millard, New York Times best-selling author of The River of Doubt and the Edgar Award-winning Destiny of the Republic
If you liked Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, you’ll want to read this book.”
—Indie Book Awards
Xenophobia. Racism. Fascism. Intolerance. Inhumanity. Coercion.
Right wing populists increasingly draw attention around the globe, but the attention is misdirected. The real problem is not the authoritarian, but the fanatics who who follow him. If people do not blindly follow and obey the despot, he is irrelevant.
Why do we attach ourselves to demagogues and mountebanks? Why do we defend even their most obvious hypocrisies and lies?
The answer is found in the history of civilization. Despite our romantic traditions, kings and conquerors were not wise leaders and gallant defenders of justic. They were vicious criminals. They represent the most evil psychopaths, narcissists, and sadists in the history of humanity.
And for the past 10,000 years, anyone who disagreed with the king or his nobles risked ruin and death.
As author Jon Ronson has suggested: “I’ve always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it wasn’t? . . . What if it was built on insanity?”
Prologue: Fantasy & Horror
War is not gallant heroism, it is horror. It is the sadistic dismembering of soldiers and civilians.
Chapter I: Kings
Kings extorted money from their subjects, monopolized high-profit resources, and dealt viciously with any resistance. They were were gangsters running national protection rackets.
Chapter II: Conquerors
Conquest is murder, torture, theft, and the enslavement of millions in pursuit of fabulous wealth. The conqueror is a serial killer who preys upon nations.
Chapter III: Psychopaths
Conquerors meet the diagnostic criteria for the ‘dark tetrad’ of criminal psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, and sadism. It is unnecessary, however, to prove that each king and conqueror meets these psychiatric dysfunctions, because successful conquest and enduring monarchy always do.
Interlude: Genetics, Eugenics, Genocide
It is offensive to categorize people by their genetic characteristics. Human genetic behavior is ruts, not rails. Ignoring our genetic influences, however, leaves us even more vulnerable to them.
Chapter IV: The Breeding Programme
Through rape and polygamy, on one side of our family tree we are all descended from the conqueror and his armies; on the other side, we are descended from the victims of these assaults. Through both lineages we have been selected, culturally and genetically, to ignore doubt and independent thought, on risk of torture and death. Survival under king and conqueror required that we not only agree with the monarch, but that we blindly believe anything he said, however illogical or outrageous.
Chapter V: The Noble Classes
Those atop the noble hierarchy were ‘important’ people. By default, the rest of us were unimportant, and expendable. Through his lieutenants, the king designed civilization as a rigid caste system of subjugation, subordination, and exclusion. Despite the rapid expansion of egalitarian ideals in recent centuries, the world still struggles against authoritarian factions who work to pull us back toward hierarchy and oppression.
Chapter VI: Privilege & The Double Standard
‘Privilege’ means ‘private law’, a legal double standard: the king and the nobility demand a middle class morality of the commoners, while personally pursuing a criminal anti-morality of every imaginable evil.
Chapter VII: The Authoritarian Personality
Millennia of cultural and genetic selection under king and conqueror leave us vulnerable to unquestioning loyalty to diverse demagogues, and many of us still believe any lie or hypocrisy the despot presents. This explains political and religious fanaticism, blind obedience to political strongmen, and the resulting cult of personality.
Chapter VIII: The Atrocino
King and conqueror have morphed into modern business and political leaders, who continue to exploit us and expend our lives for power, wealth, and narcissism.
Chapter IX: The Modern World
For 10,000 years under the king, progress was slow and serendipitous. After 1776, as the oppression of the noble classes was gradually eliminated, diffuse prosperity grew rapidly, and independent thought with it. That liberation, with the attendant expansion of intellectual and economic participation, allowed genius and progress to explode, giving us the modern world.
Chapter X: The Ugly Truth
Without the slaughter, torture, and terror of the conqueror, we would still be neolithic hunter-gatherers. That was the horrific cost of civilization.
Equality and democratic participation are still the only real antidotes to the psychopaths and narcissists who struggle for monarchy and monopoly around the globe. If progress is to continue, it is essential that we have an educated and engaged electorate. Without it, we will revert to the brutality of the past.
About the Author
Joseph N. Abraham, MD, is a retired emergency physician, an evolutionary biologist, and a Vietnam veteran, with academic backgrounds in art, chemistry and French. For 30 years, he served as president and founder of the Acadiana Educational Endowment, which distributed over $600,000 to schools in south Louisiana, most of it after Hurricane Katrina. As a widely-interested reader and inveterate traveler, he draws on his diverse backgrounds to offer a new examination of the human condition. He currently lives in Europe with his wife and two children.
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Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths was published by the University of Louisiana Press, September 18, 2018.