Sapiens

Sapiens

A Brief History of Humankind

Book - 2014
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Destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel , Sapiens is a lively, groundbreaking history of humankind told from a unique perspective.
100,000 years ago, at least six species of human 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.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Signal, 2014.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780771038501
Branch Call Number: 909 Har
Characteristics: 443 pages : illustrations, maps

Opinion

From Library Staff

100,000 years ago, at least six species of human inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo Sapiens .
How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance?

An interesting book that surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on Homo sapiens. It challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power - and our future.

In 21 Lessons, Harari discusses the present, but in Sapiens he delves into our species' past. 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 pers... Read More »

It doesn't get more descriptive than the subtitle: A Brief History of Humankind. Professor Harari touches on the various breakthroughs of the mind and of humans (the Cognitive, Industrial, and Agricultural revolutions to name a few), and how it all comes together to tell the story of Us.

A new and uniquely told history of humankind.


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Antaeus Mar 23, 2021

This book blew me away with its depth of knowledge and its scope (most of human history). A great history lesson with a compassionate and moral perspective.

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daros
Jan 11, 2021

Wonderful book to read!

JCLIanH Jan 11, 2021

Sapiens is an endlessly fascinating big-picture look at our species. While a brief history of humanity seems like it might be dry, this one is specifically written for the everyday homo sapien and is full of fascinating things to ponder.

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danielestes
Nov 11, 2020

The scope of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is vast and strikes a tone not limited to just history. For example, the opening chapters discuss how the caveman lived while the closing chapters discuss the biological possibility of everlasting happiness. This is an extraordinary book.

"There are no lawyer bees."

This is the author's humorous way of illustrating one of the most profound chapters in the entire book. In effect, for homo sapiens to band together in functionally larger and larger groups, we need to collectively subscribe to ever-increasingly complex belief systems. The Rule of Law, as implied from the above bee example, is one of those shared belief systems. Our civilization's legal system is so complex as to require entire professions of lawyers to help resolve the inevitable conflicts. Bees need no such designation because their group, while highly complex, is not nearly complex by a long stretch as to require it.

"Religions have a shared belief in a supreme power and so do political systems."

As the author argues and continuing on the theme from above, the definition of religion is much closer to the definition of a political system, such as democracy, than we care to comfortably admit. We're loathe to concede this because we want to believe our modern democratic institutions are leagues ahead, intellectually, of thousand-year-old religions. While I do believe our political systems are better, I also see the author's point in that both are simply large, complex belief systems governed by a shared subservience to a central higher power. The God of Abraham for the Christian/Jewish/Muslim faiths, for example, and the will of the people and checks and balances for a modern democracy. Both are ideologies that bind a culture together. This is a brilliant revelation, and it's altered my view the world for the better.

"How do religions solve the problem of evil AND the expectation of an all-powerful god?"

This problem has been vexing religious scholars for centuries. It's one of the central critiques of religion in general. The author offers his own solution to the problem, both a serious challenge and just as likely not to be taken seriously. It's so elegant and dastardly that I laughed out loud when I heard it. I won't spoil it for the reader but it's a good bit of irreverent philosophical humor in a book of straightforward scientific facts.

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I don't recall ever describing a non-fiction book as epic, but that's one of the best single descriptors I can offer up for this remarkable journey through history. My remarks above barely scratch the surface. Go read it.

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pateljh
Jul 25, 2020

This is one of the best books I have read on human history. I highly recommend to anyone interested in our own evolution as humans. It is remarkable that the author can fit the entire history in a single book and make it very readable and enjoyable.

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dirtbag1
Jul 23, 2020

Brilliant on so many levels. Should be a text in grades 11 and 12 if we aspire to a better informed citizenry.

mryanhess Jun 22, 2020

And now for something completely different. One of the freshest explorations of human history I've found. A witty and thought-provoking read!

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dirtbag
May 04, 2020

Aquilea777 if you haven't read a book, please don't comment.

This is an easy to read history of man from the beginning of time, with some variance in the usual interpretation of same. He has many interesting insights.

I'm surprised at the number of people who take the author to task for arguing for his own opinions. That's how books work. He doesn't have to give a presentation of other opinions or even to be fair to them.

I agree with the review by Marcus Paul...."the book is deeply flawed in places and Harari is a much better social scientist than he is philosopher, logician or historian. His critique of modern social ills is very refreshing and objective, his piecing together of the shards of pre-history imaginative and appear to the non-specialist convincing, but his understanding of some historical periods and documents is much less impressive..."
Having read a several popular books on economics ( e.g. Filthy Lucre) and on the devastation of the environment by humans ( e.g., Guns, Germs, and Steel ) amongst others, I feel this book is a good starter book for high school students or readers who have no background in the area but it is an over-simplification and a less constructive read for the better informed reader.

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SMariko
Oct 22, 2019

SMariko thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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ranvapa
Mar 17, 2018

ranvapa thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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empbee
Oct 07, 2017

empbee thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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dano62
Nov 05, 2015

Both scientist and conqueror began by admitting ignorance - they both said 'I don't know what's out there.' They both felt compelled to go out and make new discoveries.

SFPL_ReadersAdvisory Aug 18, 2015

"We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us."

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