Book Review

Sapiens a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Today I will be reviewing a book that I like. I also like the author very much. To be frank, I do not know any person who read this book and disliked it. I also know that most people have this book on top of their favorite list. This is quite a summary of the positive public opinion about this book. Yet, a number of scholars have been cynical and less enthusiastic about both the book and its author.

Yuval Noah Harari is not just a speaker and an author. He is a famous historian and a tenured professor as well. The book I will write about is Sapiens; it quickly became an international best seller since its English release back in 2014.

Happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations

The traits that characterize the work of Harari are free will, consciousness, and intelligence.

Sapiens is a book that surveys the history of humankind. It covers the evolution of humans from the Stone Age through the 21st century. The book has four primary parts covering the cognitive revolution (my favorite part), the agricultural revolution, the unification of humankind, and the scientific revolution (my second favorite part).

The author’s argument that drives his thinking about Homo Sapiens is that they can dominate the world because they can cooperate in large numbers. He also dives deep in his studies believing that this is mainly caused by Sapiens’ ability to believe in things that only exist in the imagination. He cites examples such as gods, nations, rights, and money.

In a few words, the author believes that the major cognitive capacity of Sapiens is fiction.

This book is quite provocative. I have thoroughly enjoyed it as it smartly blends history to understand human behaviors and politics. The author gives the example of capitalism which is believed to be a religion that humans invented to create mutual trust.

In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg[1]’s year of books, read and reviewed Harari’s book. In his review, Zuckerberg related Sapiens to another book that made history. One that I found the most difficult to read and understand: Al Muqaddimah. For him, Sapiens is a contemporary exploration for the same questions that Ibn Khaldoun[2] (author of Al Muqaddimah) tried to answer from a historical standpoint back in the 1300s.

If you are passionate about evolution, this is not the only book you should be reading. I would also suggest you read Homo Deus from the same author. You can subscribe to receive his articles too.

I am sharing here one of his talks that I find illuminating.

I think we are lucky to be living in the era of someone like Harari.

Genius is not over.

Who should read this book: Those who want to understand the evolution of humankind

Why you should read this book: To be intellectually challenged. To see humankind from a different perspective

Book genre: Non-fiction, history, human evolution

Rating by Stylo à Bille

[1] CEO of Facebook

[2] A leading Arab historiographer and historian considered as a forerunner of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography


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