Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Paperback – 30 Apr 2015
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"I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species" (Bill Gates)
"Interesting and provocative… It gives you a sense of how briefly we’ve been on this Earth" (Barack Obama)
"Jaw-dropping from the first word to the last… It may be the best book I’ve ever read" (Chris Evans)
"Tackles the biggest questions of history and the modern world… Written in unforgettably vivid language" (Jared Diamond)
"Startling... It changes the way you look at the world" (Simon Mayo)
"Sapiens is a starburst of a book, as enjoyable as it is stimulating" (Sunday Express)
"One of the best books I’ve read recently… Gives an excellent overview of how our species has developed" (Lily Cole)
"Sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain… Radiates power and clarity, making the world strange and new" (Sunday Times)
From the Inside Flap
Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.
We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?
In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we're going.
Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind's extraordinary history - from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age - and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world
'It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it!' Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel
Yuval's follow up to Sapiens, Homo Deus, is due in September 2016.
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Unfortunately, this enormous task is the book's own undoing. There is no room for any indepth discussions about the various complex issues, and no room to discuss the evidence. The book is filled with assertion after assertion, and virtually nothing to back them up. I looked in the reference section and I was shocked to see how few citations there were. Such a massive subject derserves ten times more citations. If you think you're getting a good scientific description of the facts, don't buy this book. This book is essentially his opinions, and not much else.
Any person who has strong knowledge within any of the subjects in the book will quickly realise that Harari is not an expert on much of what he writes about. He does not just make many claims. He makes many wrong claims. And many, many more misleading ones. It's one of those books that are popular with the layman, but not so much with the expert.
When he leaves the topic of evolutionary biology, premodern history, and starts talking about modern history the book gets slighter better. Or is that just because I'm not as well-versed in those topics? Do I just not see his errors there, just like a layperson would not see his errors in his account of evolutionary biology, intelligence research, and more? I won't know. The problem is I can't put much trust in him, because there are so many things wrong or misleading stuff elsewhere. And he doesn't provide sufficient evidence.
Even in the better parts of the book, it is ultimately somewhat dull. Not much new to learn for me, unfortunately. There are so many books about humans, many of them much better than this.
I wouldn't claim that this is the worst book ever, obviously. But to say that it is overhyped is to put it mildly. If you want to read a story, then perhaps you might find it interesting. If you want a factual account that is supported by an honest look at the available evidence, then go somewhere else.
Harari succeeds at drawing you into his own colorful and unique perspective on our humble origins in the plains of East Africa to our transition to farmers in the Agricultural Revolution and eventually rising all the way to the top. This book should not be treated as an academic and comprehensive thesis on anthropology, to treat it as such is to miss the point in my opinion. It is instead if you go into it with an open mind and a keen interest in the topic, is a fascinating and deeply thought-provoking take on ourselves as a species and what we have achieved, but also inevitably the price paid for our newfound supremacy. It's enlightening as well as sobering, and Harari toes that delicate line of acknowledging and even exalting our obvious accomplishments as a species (of which they are many) but also tempering that with the careful and measured hindsight of someone who is under no illusions. It's a balanced and fair assessment for the most part, even if at times he does resort to sensationalizing and leaning too much on his own subjective feelings at times as opposed to the facts objectively.
I'd highly recommend this book to all my fellow sapiens. It will shock you as well as inform you.
- You do not need to be a science, nature, biology, history geek to enjoy this book
- The way it is written makes it attractive for a very large audience
- The writing style is simple, yet you feel like you are learning something every page
- Insightful and applicable to humankind today
- I do not agree with everything in the book, I think some of the statements are vague, however, this doesn't mean that you will not enjoy the book. It's ok to disagree.