By Yuval Noah Harari,

Book cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

19 authors picked Sapiens as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Bored with history books full of battlefields, military equipment, long lists of battles and treaties, and discussions of changing alliances among the heavily intertwined royal families? I certainly was. And that’s why I found Yuval Noah Harari’s unique look at the history of our civilization so appealing.

In particular I greatly appreciated his focus on scientific and technological progress as drivers of development, highlighting in particular the role of the European Scientific Revolution of 16th century CE, an episode much less appreciated than the later Industrial Revolution but probably equally consequential.

A top pick for anyone who wants to…

As a historian, my reading leans heavily toward the historical, whether fiction or non. Seldom does a book grab me like Sapiens did.

It changed my perspective of human evolution with its basic premise that what was good for the human race (homo sapiens) has not necessarily been good for the individual human. A fascinating, smoothly written history of humankind that is hard to put down—honest! Even if you’re not a historian! (This would make an excellent book club book.) 

When I read Sapiens, it inspired me to read more on migration of homo sapiens and how the human evolutions in different fields took place over thousands of years.

From hunter-gatherer to a social animal journey is covered in detail with respect to economical and political development over ages. The genetic mutation is very well explained apart from religion, myths, and Gods. It has inspired me to write my own book.

Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

Book cover of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

Christina Ward Author Of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

New book alert!

Who am I?

For me, history is always about individuals; what they think and believe and how those ideas motivate their actions. By relegating our past to official histories or staid academic tellings we deprive ourselves of the humanity of our shared experiences. As a “popular historian” I use food to tell all the many ways we attempt to “be” American. History is for everyone, and my self-appointed mission is to bring more stories to readers! These recommendations are a few stand-out titles from the hundreds of books that inform my current work on how food and religion converge in America. You’ll have to wait for Holy Food to find out what I’ve discovered.

Christina's book list on the hidden history of America

What is my book about?

Does God have a recipe? Independent food historian Christina Ward’s highly anticipated Holy Food explores the influence of mainstream to fringe religious beliefs on modern American food culture.

Author Christina Ward unravels how religious beliefs intersect with politics, economics, and, of course, food to tell a different story of America. It's the story of true believers and charlatans, of idealists and visionaries, and of the everyday people who followed them—often at their peril.

Holy Food explains how faith pioneers used societal woes and cultural trends to create new pathways of belief and reveals the interconnectivity between sects and their leaders.

Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

What is this book about?

Does God have a recipe?

"Holy Food is a titanic feat of research and a fascinating exploration of American faith and culinary rites. Christina Ward is the perfect guide – generous, wise, and ecumenical." — Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams

"Holy Food doesn't just trace the influence that preachers, gurus, and cult leaders have had on American cuisine. It offers a unique look at the ways spirituality—whether in the form of fringe cults or major religions—has shaped our culture. Christina Ward has gone spelunking into some very odd corners of American history to unearth this fascinating collection of stories…

  • Coming soon!

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is, first of all, a great read and page-turner. 

Harari takes us on a journey from the emergence of Homo sapiens in East Africa to the present day, covering key milestones such as the Agricultural Revolution, the rise of civilization, empires, and technology. Through insightful analysis, he delves into topics like the development of language, the impact of myths and religions, and the role of technology in shaping our species and our lives.

This thought-provoking book challenges readers to question the fundamental nature and future trajectory of humanity. Was agriculture a ‘good thing’? What…

From Johnjoe's list on the big ideas that changed our world.

History repeats itself. That was never more clear to me until I finished reading Sapiens. 

A Brief History of Humankind is a must read for everyone to understand the historical context of where we collectively came from and where we’re going. 

The reality of human history includes long periods of brutality, war, and uncertainty. Only within the last few hundred years have we become civilized enough to develop complex systems of organization. 

When you can see the long road of progress and how none it was a sure thing, then you will appreciate that the road ahead isn’t written in…

You can’t understand who we are and where we’re going without understanding who we were and where we’ve been.
Sapiens encapsulates the history of humankind with perfection, capturing the nuances of our complexities, the patterns of our tendencies, and the shortcomings of our wiring. It reveals so much about ourselves that we often overlook or completely disregard.

Reading this book was like meeting humanity for the first time.  

Examining the emergence of our species reveals just how wonderful we are and each of us is.

Yuval Noah Harari is particularly impressed with the moral stories that enable very large numbers of us to cooperate, not only within families and tribes, but within nations and the world.

Harari also writes about the evolution of social institutions such as money, instrumental to cooperation among large numbers of people.

From Clifford's list on the global economy.

I am not a fan of the history genre, but this book glued me to its pages. I like how this scholarly presentation of our evolutionary history became a publishing phenomenon that surprised publishers and booksellers. I like its in-depth but clear explanations and the distilled messages that can help us make better decisions for the future. The most impactful message for me was how the stronger and bigger-brained Neanderthals disappeared whereas we, the Sapiens, evolved rapidly because our predecessors were able to communicate and operate as teams of individuals with diverse skills.

Harari weaves an engaging and intriguing story about where we came from. Unlike Bryson’s Western Hemisphere view, he provides a Middle Eastern perspective to these deep issues. Like Bryson, the arc of his volume addresses some of the biggest questions troubling humankind. So, two views of similar issues that we can compare and contrast—which stimulates our own thinking about those issues and how our own regionality might affect our thinking.

From James' list on science vs. religion.

I was blown away by this book and then went on to read his second and third books and can’t wait for his fourth book! The book is an elegant and easier-to-understand version of many longer and harder-to-read books trying to unearth and explain similar matters. Also I agree with Harari about so much of what he’s trying to teach.  

Read the book and you’ll understand so much more about what makes humans tick!

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