At the heart of our species is the need to connect, and the capacity to care for each other.  This is what has allowed humanity to thrive for so long. And yet our ties to each other seem to be weakening.  We are more polarized, isolated, stressed, and lonely than ever before, and our empathy — especially for people who do not look or think like us—is eroding.

In this dazzling, essential book, Jamil Zaki, a professor of psychology at Stanford, helps us understand this crisis and what we can do about it.  Zaki is a world-renowned expert on empathy, whose lab has done pioneering work on not just how caring works, but how people can learn to empathize in broader, healthier ways.  In this book, he gives a tour de force exploration of the latest science behind human connection. He focuses on a powerful, groundbreaking new message: although we often think of empathy as a trait that we either have or don’t have, in fact it’s a skill, which we can grow through practice.  

But The War For Kindness offers much more than education.  Through impassioned arguments and powerful stories, Zaki demonstrates the human costs that arise when empathy falters—think hatred, mental illness, and social collapse—and introduces us to doctors, teachers, parents, and even ex-Neo Nazis who live in empathy’s trenches, and have fought to retain their care and compassion even in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.  

The War for Kindness will leave readers empowered to grow and give them an urgent reason to do so.  If we each focus on building our empathy and compassion, we can improve not only our own lives but the lives of others and by doing so bring light to a world that seemingly has darkened.


  • James R. Doty, M.D.

    Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine

    James R. Doty, M.D. is the founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University ( of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the founding benefactor. He works with a variety of scientists from a number of disciplines examining the neural bases for compassion and altruism. He is also a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Doty is an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, having given support to a number of charitable organizations supporting peace initiatives and providing healthcare throughout the world. Additionally, he has supported research, provided scholarships and endowed chairs at multiple universities. He is on the Board of a number of non-profits and is the former chairman of the Dalai Lama Foundation and vice-chair of the Charter for Compassion International. He is also on the Senior Advisory Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.Dr. Doty is the Senior Editor of the "Handbook of Compassion Science" published by the Oxford University Press and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart” that has now been translated into 36 languages.