Wednesday 23 January 2019

Harari, Yuval Noah "Sapiens"

Harari, Yuval Noah "Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind" (Hebrew: קיצור תולדות האנושות/Ḳizur Toldot Ha-Enoshut) - 2014

This book is one of the most interesting ones I have read lately. A book that tries to explain how we became the beings we are today, what happened between the time the first humanoid forms appeared on this earth and today. It answers many questions you might have never asked yourself but always should have.

Why did the Homo Sapiens survive and not the Neanderthal? Why did we go from being hunters and gatherers to being settlers, farmers? Did it do us any good? Have people in the middle ages been unhappier than we are today? What is the advantage of global communities? And where does all this go? How much does biology influence history? What exactly are cultural differences?

If you have any questions along those lines, the answer is probably in this book. Or - it can't be answered.

A brilliant book by a great mind, a history professor who has studied his fellow human beings intensely.

From the back cover:

"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, paleontology 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."
I also read "Homo Deus" in the meantime. Just as great.


  1. What was the most intriguing idea you learned from this book?

    1. That is a tough call. There was so much in it that I learned as I've never been very scientific.

      But I think what fascinated me most was how the human being developed, how we got to where we are now, whether that's good or bad. Brilliant.