Given this book’s massive popularity, I might ruffle some feathers when I say this but I found Sapiens borderline difficult to read. I’m not a fan of Harari’s writing style, although that’s completely subjective. But I think the scarceness of sourcing in the work combined with Harari’s tendency to lapse into speculation and hyperbole is a bad combination. You can either source what is known comprehensively making it clear when you’re giving your own opinion, or you can source sparingly but keep your unfounded opinions to a minimum, but you can’t have it both ways. Thus, making it hard to get through this book for me.
Conceptually, it won’t change your life but you’ll gain an important perspective and appreciation about humans. I’ve always thought that society and culture have much to say about our human existence. If we remove all of these labels, barriers and ideologies the question becomes who can we be without these influences?
Harari makes some interesting points on evolution, economy, and humanity and I think it helps stimulate thought about how we’ve chosen to structure our society but there are many points in the book that I can’t agree on.
I did enjoy his concept of the trajectory of our species, Harari says, they can be traced as a succession of three revolutions: the cognitive revolution (when we got smart), the agricultural revolution (when we got nature to do what we wanted), and the scientific revolution (when we got dangerously powerful). The theory of we’ve been conditioned by our tribal hunter-gatherers’ ancestors to think a certain way is very engaging to me. However, other writers have written about the same but in an approach that was more receivable for me. As stated, I can’t say that this book completely changed my outlook on life but it did pose some interesting arguments.
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
Destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Sapiens is a lively, groundbreaking history of humankind told from a unique perspective.
100,000 years ago, at least six species of humans inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo Sapiens.
How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?
In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical — and sometimes devastating — breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology, and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?
Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power…and our future.
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