My favorite type of non-fiction books are of the ‘Why do us crazy humans do the things we do?’ variety. Any time I go on tour there’s usually a stack of them in my bunk. Some of the best in this genre are Driven: How Nature Shapes Our Choices, by Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, and Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor E. Frankl, among countless others. Greg Graffin, Bad Religion frontman and college professor has been asking and answering that question on stage and in classrooms for better than 30 years.
Graffin has two books out, Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God, and Population Wars: A New Perspective on Competition and Existence, that furthers the conversation while adding in some interesting anecdotes about life as a punk rock professor. Spending so much time in front of a class or audience gives Graffin’s writing a scholarly air. There are times when it feels like we’re reading a textbook on what it was like investigating plant and animal colonies while recording the No Control album, but that’s what makes these books so entertaining and informative. What better way for your average punk rock fan who rebelled against the stereotype and actually picked up a book or two to learn about what motivates our species to constantly go to war with each other and behave so poorly. Graffin and his co-horts changed the game with the Suffer album by raising the level of discourse in their lyrics above the din of shouted Oi’s and Fuck You’s, and now with his printed pages, he continues to elevate the playing field and warn of the effects of our continued short-sightedness. Let’s hope the message is getting through.
Buy the book here