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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,346264905 (4.18)210
"From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution--a #1 international bestseller--that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be "human." One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one--homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas .Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem"--… (more)
  1. 110
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (Percevan)
  2. 10
    A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford (jigarpatel)
  3. 10
    A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich (uitdepolder)
  4. 00
    Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher (pammab)
    pammab: Sapiens' framing of capitalism-as-religion and its implications were done first in Small is Beautiful. Small is Beautiful focuses on one modern aspect of a much larger cultural change rooted in ideas & capabilities explored in Sapiens.
  5. 00
    The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New by Peter Watson (longway)
  6. 13
    The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong by Matthew Stewart (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: An interesting and critical look at things that we take for granted, giving the reader new perspectives on everything from strategi to time
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» See also 210 mentions

English (212)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (8)  Catalan (7)  French (5)  German (4)  Italian (4)  Finnish (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (261)
Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
When I started this book I was sure of one thing, "This book was going to disappoint me". I could not conceive the idea of how a writer would do justice to both the macroscopic as well as microscopic aspects of homo sapiens. I was sure he would lean either towards the macroscopic aspect and forget important trajectories of the present time or lean towards microscopic aspects of the present time and fail to give a holistic picture. And I am very, very happy to say Yuval Noah Harari disproved me entirely.
This writer is a genius for me. The clarity, the synchronicity of ideas, the staunch unbiased stance that is exuded from his book has blown me over.
The book that is just shy of 500 pages packs inside it thousands of years of events, their analysis and their interpretations. This book does not just focus solely on events, it throws a completely different light to a lot of things which inadvertently expands your mental horizon. At least, for me, this 5 months of reading this book (I am a painfully slow reader and this should not be taken as a sign of how difficult of a read this book is) have been tremendous learning experiences. I remember being shaken at moments by the profundity of the words that I am reading. This book has made me speechless and amazed more than a dozen times.
I have read a lot of non-fiction books and one thing that I have found constant in all of these books is that you always get to know the stand that the writer takes. As much as being unbiased is valued in this genre, a truly unbiased author is a rare occurrence. But this writer was unbiased from the start to the finish. I was on the lookout throughout the book to find that Gotcha!!! moment where his philosophy will ultimately show up; but I am happy I could not find a single instance where his preference shows up. In fact, the only constant in his philosophy was its fluidity. This unbiasedness is for me the highest highlight of this book.
The only complaint I have (this is a completely personal opinion and complete nitpicking ) is the ultimate and penultimate chapters. I did not like the focus on morality on those chapters and it kind of annoyed me. I felt it was forced and misplace and didn't flow the trajectory of the narration.
Keeping that aside, there is nothing there is to complain about this book.
Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this book and dive into the brilliance of this man.



( )
  __echo__ | May 11, 2021 |
I am not sure what to say about this.... I had such high expectations, and it was a huge disappointment. The first 2 chapters of this book were quite good, and I learned some fascinating things, although even then I noticed the lack of accuracy of many of the things the author said. From the Agricultural Revolution onwards the book just went down hill. Harari took many superficial facts, and manipulated them in order to support his world view, and presented this as an objective approach to history. He does write well, and that is why he is getting away with this. These are the times when I am so happy I studied history in university, and as a result I am not manipulated by people such as Harari. ( )
  Clarissa_ | May 11, 2021 |
Definitely one of my favourite books... Sapiens covers the history of the human race (specifically Sapiens) from 300 000 years ago up to today. The book is written with theories on how Sapiens developed into 1 species while 5 other species of humans did not survive. The book covers a number of topics including how agriculture allowed the species to thrive as well as the part that religion played in our history both good and bad.. (warning: if you are a religious person, some content may be offensive). If you have a curious mind, this book may help to answer some of those questions you may have had. The book is also not a book set in stone, the author uses what evidence is available at the time (with lots of sources!) and provides a theory on how we evolved as a species. Definitely a recommended read! ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
This is really the type of history book everyone wants: it is packed with information, well synthesized, and provocative enough to stir you into further study. Harari makes no qualms about his method: this is not an objective survey (however much that’s even possible); it is a speculative history full of opinion while also backed by voluminous sources. His position on everything is immediately apparent, and I can see how anyone who is at all sensitive to their position on different topics will find Harari a bit acerbic. Really, this book requires a mature reader, in the vein of Bacon’s and Nabokov’s definition. At times you will think Harari basically hates human beings (sapiens, at least), but the careful reader will find that his thoughts are more complex than that. One of his biggest stances is the importance of fiction-making in human progress. He takes the concept of fiction-making to near nihilistic boundaries, but, again, sober eyes see the greater arguments. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read his follow-up. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
It's an ambitious goal to explain human history in 500 pages, and I think the author did a good job. The book consists of four parts covering the beginning of Homo sapiens, agriculture, trade and the scientific revolution. Not having read much anthropology, I found the early cognitive revolution fascinating.

The weakest link was the section on agriculture, probably influenced by the author's personal views on industrial farming. At times I got the feeling that he would be happier if we all got back up in the trees and forgot about mathematics. Some assumptions about the misery of early farmers and the trouble-free life as hunter-gatherers went a bit too far by romanticizing the latter.

Apart from this, I enjoyed the book and read it in just two sittings. The part linking capitalism, empire and science together was especially interesting. It got me thinking about what founded the world as we know it today, and where we're heading.

If you're looking for a crash course in the history of mankind, this is the book for you. It's easy to read and covers a lot of ground in a short time.
( )
  nillanova | Apr 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 212 (next | show all)
Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.
added by Jozefus | editThe Guardian, Galen Strawson (Sep 11, 2014)
 
Jared Diamond hoort met Simon Schama, Bill Bryson en Charles Mann tot die zeldzame auteurs die inderdaad het grote verhaal vertellen. [...] Zijn recente werk, De wereld tot gisteren, is een brede vergelijking tussen de laatste primitieve samenlevingen, en de eenheidsworst die we nu 'beschaving' noemen. Diamond laat zien hoe 'primitief' we eigenlijk nog zijn, en hoe veel we van die volken kunnen leren. Hij zet aan tot denken. Harari laat de lezer in verwarring achter. [...] Harari beheerst de techniek, maar een 'groot verhaal' komt niet van de grond.
added by Jozefus | editde Volkskrant, Marcel Hulspas (Apr 12, 2014)
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harari, Yuval Noahprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gower, NeilMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perkins, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Purcell, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watzman, HaimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In loving memory of my father, Shlomo Harari
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About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time, and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang.
Quotations
We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution--a #1 international bestseller--that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be "human." One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one--homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas .Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem"--

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