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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Hardcover – 4 September 2014
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100,000 years ago, at least six human species 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.
'Here is a simple reason why Sapiens has risen explosively to the ranks of an international bestseller.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
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
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
Sapiens is packed with heretical thinking and surprising facts. This riveting, myth-busting book cannot be summarised in any detail; you will simply have to read it -- John Gray ― Financial Times
Here is a simple reason why Sapiens has risen explosively to the ranks of an international best-seller. 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
What’s unique about Harari’s take is that he focuses on the power of stories and myths to bring people together... I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun, engaging look at early human history... Harari tells our history in such an approachable way that you’ll have a hard time putting it down -- Bill Gates
What makes it so interesting and provocative is that because it’s such a condensed sweeping history it talks about some core things that have allowed us to build this extraordinary civilisation that we take for granted, but weren’t a given, and it gives you a sense of perspective in how briefly we’ve been on this Earth -- Barack Obama ― CNN
Sapiens is the sort of book that sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain. Its author, Yuval Noah Harari, is a young Israeli academic and an intellectual acrobat whose logical leaps have you gasping with admiration...Harari's writing radiates power and clarity, making the world strange and new -- John Carey ― The Sunday Times
Unbelievably good book. Jaw dropping from the first word to the last. ― Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2
A rare book...thrilling and breathtaking ― Observer
Harari is able to be as refreshingly clear in his discussions of biology, of evolutionary anthropology and of economics as he is of historical trends… Stick with him and you learn a lot ― Daily Telegraph
Reading it is like having a mental massage, cold shower and brisk workout, and all in the comfort of your own home -- Esther Rantzen ― Mail on Sunday
Full of shocking and wondrous stories ― Sunday Times
Consistently engaging…Harari writes prose that leaps from the page. His broad sweep, collating philosophy, science, history and economics, creates moments of eyebrow-raising revelation for a reader from any background ― New Statesman
Sapiens is a fast-paced, witty and challenging romp through 70,000 years of human history...I did love it, and if you are interested in the whole story of humankind, I'm confident that you will love it too ― Literary Review
Provocative and fascinating and opinionated…it makes the familiar seem unfamiliar. It altered how I view our species and our world. -- Mohsin Hamid ― Guardian
Harari delivers a boldly synthesized account of Homo sapiens' rise through the hominin ranks...A view of our ascent as nasty, brutish, long - and endlessly fascinating ― Nature
Harari can write. Not in the sense that most authors can...But really, really write, with wit, clarity, elegance and a wonderful eye for metaphor ― The Times
Provocative, thrilling erudite… One of the year’s most talked-about books ― Metro
Its breadth is startling... It changes the way you look at the world and few books tick that box. -- Simon Mayo ― Daily Express
Probably the most ambitious history book of the year. Certainly the most thought-provoking -- Dan Jones ― Evening Standard - Books of the Year
About the Author
Prof Yuval Noah Harari has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specialising in World History. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has become an international phenomenon attracting a legion of fans from Bill Gates and Barack Obama to Chris Evans and Jarvis Cocker, and is published in sixty languages worldwide. It was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and was in the Top Ten for over nine months in paperback. His follow-up to Sapiens, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow was also a Top Ten Bestseller and was described by the Guardian as 'even more readable, even more important, than his excellent Sapiens'. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, was a Number One Bestseller and was described by Bill Gates as 'fascinating' and 'crucial'. Harari worked closely with renowned comics illustrator Daniel Casanave and co-writer David Vandermeulen to create his latest book, an adaptation of his first bestseller, Sapiens Graphic Novel: Volume 1.
- Publisher : Harvill Secker (4 September 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 456 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1846558239
- ISBN-13 : 978-1846558238
- Dimensions : 16.7 x 4 x 24 cm
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Reviewed in Australia on 16 July 2020
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This is the best book I've read on our 'imagined orders', money, religion, politics, law etc, their clash with the discoveries of science, and how we try to find meaning in it all.
The author says that liberalism is the dominant religion today, I would say it's consumerism. Either way, or another way, can't wait to get into the authors next book
There are some errors in the book which are disappointing as it may undermine your faith in the rest of the book and there is a reasonable dollop of the authors opinion. By and large though I feel the author is pragmatic in his writing at the risk of upsetting many, which makes the book even more enthralling. No holds barred as they say.
It should be mandatory reading for most schools if not just for encouraging educated debate.
Thank you Yuval for this wonderful book. I will make reference to it regularly for many years I imagine.
Firstly I want to tell you that this is a history book. You might think that this is a boring book, but it's actually a fascinating book with lots of important events such as 2011 Egyptian evolution.
Throughout this amazing book, I learned that we, Homo Sapiens, had so many things in the world and how they survived against all the other types of humans. Because of this book, I started thinking that we have to stop doing some crazy war to take someone’s happiness and not achieve anything, and we know that from all those histories of the war.
One thing that I really liked about this book is that unlike the other boring history books Sapiens is more like an action book, to be honest. I got this feeling of excitement when I was reading this book because I was curious about what is gonna happen and why the event has occurred.
One thing I prefer for you to do is get a notebook or something that you can take the note and maybe get a dictionary as there some really hard scientific words.
I bet that you have never read something like this before. I believe that this is a great book because whilst learning history you will have so much excitement and everything.
I recommend this book to people aged 13 and over. I am 12 right now and I get a bit confused about some bits in this book.
Now you have read my whole review but I don’t think everyone will love this book as there are some hard words and scientific diagram but this will make you get A+ in History
I did find the book actually a bit disappointing towards the end; the first 2/3 were a fascinating read, with great insights, fresh perspectives, and well-written reflections on where we came from and how we got here. After that, however, the tone set in the first part of the book didn't work for the topics being discussed, and the narrative was lacking in the kind of surprising insights that made the first part such an enjoyable read.
Certainly a book I would recommend reading, but ultimately not as satisfying as it at first promised to be.
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Reviewed in India on 6 September 2018
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.
Unfortunately, I also have to agree with many of the one star reviewers, that the books downfall is the almost constant speculation he engages in, without providing further evidence.
As an example, he states 'the creators of the cave paintings at Chauvet, Lascaux and Altmira almost certainly intended them to last for generations.'
This kind of statement is endemic of the sloppy thinking he engages in, where he will assume something for the sake of the narrative.
This wouldn't be a problem if it were in isolation, but it is a pattern repeated throughout the book, where he will base a conclusion off an assumption, then proceed to build a whole story off it. This relegates the book to a speculation rather than a historical account.
I would also advice Christians that he is rather condescending about religion in general and Christianity in particular. He describes Christianity as a 'myth' to be put in the same category as belief in Odin or in Wood Spirits. AS a Non-Christian I was annoyed over his presumptive anti-theism so I have no doubt that many believers will find him infuriating.
To sum up, this is an interesting and infuriating speculation of the humankind. Take it all with a shaker of salt.