- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Harper (10 February 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062316095
- ISBN-13: 978-0062316097
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 15.5 x 23.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Customer Reviews: 182 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Hardcover – 10 Feb 2015
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"I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun, engaging look at early human history...you'll have a hard time putting it down."--Bill Gates
"Thank God someone finally wrote [this] exact book."--Sebastian Junger
"Sapiens takes readers on a sweeping tour of the history of our species.... Harari's formidable intellect sheds light on the biggest breakthroughs in the human story...important reading for serious-minded, self-reflective sapiens."--Washington Post
"It is one of the best accounts by a Homo sapiens of the unlikely story of our violent, accomplished species....It is one hell of a story. And it has seldom been told better.... Compulsively readable and impossibly learned."--Michael Gerson, Washington Post
"This was the most surprising and thought-provoking book I read this year."--Atlantic.com
"Yuval Noah Harari's full-throated review of our species may have been blurbed by Jared Diamond, but Harari's conclusions are at once balder and less tendentious than that of his famous colleague."--New York magazine
"An encyclopedic approach from a well-versed scholar who is concise but eloquent, both skeptical and opinionated, and open enough to entertain competing points of view....The great debates of history aired out with satisfying vigor."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Writing with wit and verve, Harari...attempts to explain how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth as well as the sole representative of the human genus.... Provocative and entertaining."--Publishers Weekly
"The most idea-packed work of non-fiction I've read in years."--Dick Meyer, www.abcactionnews.com
From the Back Cover
One hundred thousand 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, Professor 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, paleontology, and economics, and incorporating full-color illustrations throughout the text, 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 behavior from the legacy 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 integrates history and science to challenge everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our heritage...and our future.
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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
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.
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.
Top international reviews
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.
What I loved about the book:
-I've really been looking for answers to many questions (about life, about evolution, about - why it happened this way and not that), things, and events (such a Britain, how it was able to rule over such big empires, etc.) I never understood. Having all it combined and presented in such a wonderful way was a treat to read.
- Not only this book gives a history of how it all happened, it does open up many avenues and offers some logical reasoning about things and why they happened that way and not in any other way. The good part is, it does that in an exploring way and not just throwing some facts on your face to deal with. It explores various options and slowly, gently, how we came about to be what we are, who we are, and why we are.
- The book, although I may not totally be satisfied with some of the reasoning or thought processes of the author on certain issues (And I still give 5 stars!! haha), offers some wonderful windows into perspectives I never thought of.
- I loved the way how the author deals with the future. Again, I may not agree with everything there, but it did give me some points to think about, some aspects I never considered worth the thought.
- The book not only deals with laws of nature, actually, it doesn't at all - it offers some eye-opening reasoning of why everything is the way it is.
What I did not enjoy that much:
-Well, this could be an individual choice, but somewhere in the middle, I found the book somewhat stretched on Capitalism and Industrial Revolution. I did get to understand and learn some things there too, but that was where I would have rated the book 4/5.
But by the time I ended the book, well, I was able to ignore having being bored for some time, for what all perspective I gained from the book.
Its unbelievable how author put forth history/future of humankind in such an never ending enthusiastic manner.
loved both the books
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.
I mean, you wrote a book about it, so I think people have a pretty good idea on where you stand, but the author smacks it in your face, and that ruined the book, which is a shame because it had the potential to be a great book, don't get me wrong, this was a good book, but not a great one.
- 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.
It's not a history - it's "Pop History." Superficial with lots of bold assertions without any corroborating evidence. With five minutes on Google you can discover that some of the most outlandish stories are false. At many times in the book I felt the author departed from what scientific evidence/research supports and instead conveyed a more political/biased view of things.
I would have liked to have him bring his educated opinions, emotions and humanity into the book more directly and openly, with facts and ideas that show how he arrived at these beliefs, rather than disguise his emotions as science and cherry pick a few facts to support himself. It cheapened what could otherwise have been a very good, thought provoking and otherwise well written book.
Given his next book is about the future, I am going to avoid it. In the middle of the book, I even wanted to give it up. Towards the end I had to push myself through the book.
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.
Learning history from Yuval Harari is like relying on Facebook feed as your only source of news, you get hooked by the content easily, albeit it's mostly disinformation.