This review by Timothy Snyder contains food for thought, though some of the points that it makes are, as far as I can see, nit-picks. After all, Snyder seems to think that Steven Pinker is correct overall in his view that the violence of human societies has tended to decline.
The main point seems to be that Pinker underestimates the contribution that has been made to the decline of violence by the rise of the welfare state. Snyder then blames this failure on what he sees as Pinker's tendency towards political libertarianism.
I'm going to re-read large amounts of The Better Angels of Our Nature over the next few days, as I've promised a review for the ABC Religion and Ethics Portal. I'll watch out for the points that Snyder makes. How far does Pinker ignore the rise of the welfare state? How plausible is it, in any event that the rise of the welfare state has had an effect in reducing the violence of human societies? My gut feeling is that it has had some effect (and, for the record, I favour the welfare state) ... but how well does attributing a large or even decisisve effect fit the data sets that we have? And how far does Pinker really seem to be showing political libertarian biases?
Moreover, could Snyder himself be showing certain biases in his interpretation of Pinker, and of the historical record? We shall see.