Civilized to Death

Full Name
Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

Civilized to Death explores the ways in which progress has corrupted the way we live: how we eat, feel, learn, parent, mate, communicate, work, and die. It opposes the idea that progress is—by its very nature—good, arguing that the way progress is defining our age is comparable to an advancing disease. At a time when our society, our ecology, and our own sense of self feels increasingly imperiled, a true understanding of our species’ long overture to civilization is essential to a clear vision of the ultimate value of civilization and its costs. Civilized to Death claims that we should start looking backwards to find our way into a better future.

“Engaging, extensively documented, well-organized, and thought-provoking.”


“Entertaining and provocative.”

Publishers Weekly

“[A] prescient book about the nature of progress . . . Civilized to Death will make you see our so-called progress in a whole new light.”

— Book Riot

“This book takes on 'progress' as a guiding ethos—and does so with gusto.”

The Stranger

“It is increasingly clear to many of us that the way we have been living is no longer sustainable, at least as long as we want the earth to outlive us. . . . Civilized to Death is an important guide in this conversation.”

Psychology Today

"A fascinating read."

Seattle Times

""Every great once in a while, a book comes along that makes you rethink everything you thought you knew. Civilized to Death is without question one of them.""

Jesse Bering, PhD, author of The Belief Instinct

Christopher Ryan is one of the most interesting and provocative thinkers of our time. Everyone should read him—you might well disagree but you’ll definitely think differently."

Johann Hari, New York Times–bestselling author of Lost Connections

"Read this book and you will never look at the world in the same way again. . . . Humans evolved to survive and reproduce. They were all successful with the second adaptation, with overpopulation that has resulted in famine, overcrowding, and civic strife.  Human survival was made possible by the brain's remarkable intelligence. But why hasn't that intelligence produced happier, healthier men and women, even in 'civilized' countries?  Christopher Ryan provides the answer in this provocative book, which is destined for classic status. It demonstrates how people are being civilized to death, both literally and metaphorically. It presents a stark picture of how the human experiment may be winding down if not winding up. But it also provides some solutions, brilliant roadmaps that you will find nowhere else, neither in politician's utopian scenarios or futurists' speculations."

Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., co-author Personal Mythology