New York Times Bestseller
A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you’ve ever lamented the state of the world and the environmental and political chaos swirling all around us, this book is for you. Israeli historian Yuval Harari argues that the roots of humanity’s current problems can be found by tracing our footsteps way, way back in time. Sapiens—a breakaway hit around the world—explores our species’ history by following a series of cognitive, agricultural, and scientific revolutions that occurred over the course of 100,000 years and up to the present. Harari uses critical insights and philosophical reflections to deliver takeaway lessons about the past that could help shape our future.
Writing with wit and verve, Harari, professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attempts to explain how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth as well as the sole representative of the human genus. He notes that from roughly two million years ago until about 10,000 years ago, we were not the only humans on the planet; many species preceded us, and some overlapped our tenure. Harari argues persuasively that three revolutions explain our current situation. The first, the cognitive revolution, occurred approximately 70,000 years ago and gave us "fictive" language, enabling humans to share social constructs as well as a powerful "imagined reality" that led to complex social systems. The second, the agricultural revolution, occurred around 12,000 years ago and allowed us to settle into permanent communities. The third, the scientific revolution, began around 500 years ago and allowed us to better understand and control our world. Throughout, Harari questions whether human progress has led to increased human happiness, concluding that it's nearly impossible to show that it has. Harari is provocative and entertaining but his expansive scope only allows him to skim the surface.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Brilliant book outlining the history of human kind with brief speculation on some of our species potential futures. The author covers all fronts of the human condition- biology, culture, ideology, religion, nationalism et al. A very entertaining and clarifying view of human reality.
A Great Place To Start
“Sapiens" does an exellent job of serving it’s said purpose: giving an overview of human history. It’s an introduction. It’s a macro-view of how human society came to be what it is today. And some of it is not pretty. Harari definitely has some opinions in this book, but even he admits that there is more to the story. I think the information is, by and large, all presented in the most objective way he could have put it. You can find evidence from this book to support a number of differing opinions and that’s the marker, for me, that this author is not aspousing an ideology. And with that, the great thing about this book is that some particular part might inspire you to dig deeper and formulate your own opinions! We definitely need more books like that. Great read for anyone looking to have their curiosity peaked!
Completely and unashamedly ignores the contributions to science made by non-Europeans, such as during the Islamic golden age, the ancient Chinese/Indians, etc.
I was also quite shocked by the author’s ignorance of the importance of science and secular knowledge in the Islamic tradition. He conflates divine revelation with secular knowledge, which were both considered separate fields, by early Islamic scholars and in several Prophetic narrations.
However, if you want a good overview of European contributions to humanity, I suppose it’s a good book.