Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and global philanthropist, is on the latest edition of “Desert Island Discs,” the venerable BBC-4 radio show on which guests are asked which eight records they would take with them to a desert island.
As fans of the show know, at the end guests are also asked which one book they would take with them to the desert island (other than the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, which all castaways are given).
Gates’s answer: The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. In the 832-page book, the Harvard psychology professor argues that despite all of the grim headlines these days, we are actually living in the least violent period in human history, with war, slavery, assassinations, pogroms, child abuse, and genocide all at historic lows.
On the radio show, Gates called Better Angels “a brilliant discussion of how humanity’s treating humanity better, less deaths, less slavery over time.” He added, “I’m always telling people to read the book but it’s very long. On the desert island I guess I’ll get to read it many times.”
Gates also shared his favorite music, which includes David Bowie, the Beatles, and Jimmy Buffett singing an obscure song from The Sound of Music.
Another bonus for book-lovers: when the host, Kirsty Young, asked the world’s richest man if he had any guilty pleasures, his first response was: “I buy all the books I want.”
Listen to the whole "Desert Islands Discs" episode here