Book Review Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind By Yuval Noah Harari

“Evolution has made Homo sapiens, like other social mammals, a xenophobic creature. Sapiens instinctively divides humanity into two parts, ‘we’ and ‘they’.” ― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

I took a considerably long time to finish this book. And there’s just one reason for this- I had to soak in every bit of it, understand every rational that was put forth, and question my very own beliefs and thought processes. The evolution of human history could be one exhilarating topic to write about. The whole subject is large, and a book on it would require a great deal of research and work. Yuval Noah Harari’s book- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has managed to put together these very pieces of evolution in a little less than 500 odd pages.

“How did we Humans, probably insignificant at one point in this universe, transform ourselves into one of the most powerful species on the entire planet?”

Whats the book about

70,000 years of human existence- yes that’s how long we have been around. But wait, before you think, here is another history/sociology/ biology book, let me make it clear. Sapiens is a book that would get you thinking. It is a book that triggers imagination, piques curiosity. From the beginning of the human race, our life over the centuries, evolution of – society, religion and money, Harari takes you on a very interesting journey. 

The book consists of 4 main parts that journey the 70,000 years of human existence

• The Cognitive Revolution – A revolution that shaped the way we think and lead. Get a look at the day to day lives of early humans, linking and exploring the link between human growth and extinction of other animal species.
• The Agricultural Revolution – Much as it has been considered historically as a big breakthrough in the advancement of mankind, Harari argues that this revolution is history’s biggest fraud. He speaks of the Agricultural Revolution as being responsible for bringing about bureaucracy, greed, suffering and death. May sound strange, but I did find his arguments quite convincing.
• The Unification of Mankind – An interesting section of the book that speaks about the evolution of money, and religion as it brings together mankind.
• The Scientific Revolution – The industrial, scientific growth and rapid advances, and the dangers as Harari sees it, when business and science meet.

Concluding the four parts, Harari seamlessly moves his writing touching upon the meaning of human life and happiness. From the beginning of the book what really stands out is the simplicity with which Harari beings forth his arguments. No fancy jargon, yet elements of profoundness strewn across the narration.

Disappointments

If there’s one thing that left me feeling disappointed it is the loss of momentum in the latter half of the book. The book kicks start on a fast paced mode however gets long drawn especially in the sections that discuss the invention of money for barter. Also, with the first few parts being seemingly convincing with arguments being based on facts, Harari seems to fizzle out on his arguments later. Any book on evolution or history needs to be based on facts and findings. With this regard, I wasn’t too happy in to find arguments based more on personal opinions of Harari. While some of his thoughts were agreeable, some were extremely bizarre.

Final Word

Despite all this , Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind is a good piece of work. This book is no casual read. It may provoke you, shock you, depress you, convince you, and make you reject opinions- all at once in one single book.

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