Sapiens

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?

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

Sapiens has become a modern classic and it is easy to see why. Ambitious, lucid, and fascinating, it is a wonderful piece of communication and scholarship. While nuggets of historical knowledge and analysis appear on page after page, what left the biggest impression on me was this is a book which beautifully illustrates the importance of keeping an eye on the bigger picture. It is too easy to get stuck in the minutiae of life and events. Harari teaches us the importance of lifting out and keeping a sense of perspective. In addition to helping us better understand what it…

From Anne and Paul's list on making a difference in public relations.

What sounded like an interesting book on history felt like a field guide to understanding humans, in all our truly senseless but seemingly normal behavior. I love how this book explains the way we got to where we are, for better and for worse, which may point to where we are going. I was captivated throughout, and the second chapter, “The Tree of Knowledge,” set the stage by simultaneously blowing my mind and explaining humankind through our unique capacity for imagination; our fictions. The stories we tell. The ideas and cultures and gods we create. They drive everything, from how…

When reading about history, we often get lost in the fine details of the historical events, and in doing so we lose the sense of realizing the bigger picture and the common trends which are by far the best indicators of where our civilization is moving toward. They are also the key to having an intuitive understanding of our social and collective nature. Yuval Noah Harari does this perfectly by using a coherent, well-connected, and simple presentation of humankind’s history.

From Mahmoud's list on to understand humanity and the universe.

I wanted to dislike this book – a historian writing about human pre-history and evolution? And selling millions of copies? Scandalous! But when I got over myself, downloaded the audiobook, and set off on a long run, I was as enthralled as so many other readers. This very long audiobook motivated me to run and really got my training miles going in the right direction.

In areas I know a lot about, I found myself irritated by the quick and glossy treatment. But then I appreciated that in areas I knew less about the level of detail was just enough…

This is the most extraordinary repackaging of what we know of our shared history. It helps us understand the journey we have made from cave paintings to the driverless car, and the ingenuity and creativity that we must marshall once again if we are to ensure that the tech works for us, not the other way round. It is humbling and uplifting.

From Tom's list on navigating an unstable world.

Sapiens blew my brain, as I believe it did the brains of many millions of readers all over the world. I’m aware some scholars disagree with Harari’s theories, but I’m no scholar and I found them riveting. In fact, Harari really did open my eyes to a great many things that made a great deal of sense to me. I have also read the following two books of his trilogy – Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – which I found equally compelling, although rather bleak in the final prognosis. However,…

From Judy's list on embrace show business and history.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Every page captivated me with simple, accurate yet entertaining explanations of why we ended up doing what we do and being who we are. Starting 70,000 years ago the book reconsiders through biology, psychology, and history all the milestones that brought our species to today. It even considers what we should do now for a better future. This book is to understanding Homo Sapiens what A Brief History Of Time is to understanding the universe!

If we are ever to truly know ourselves as human beings, we need to understand where human beings came from. This eye-opening book takes you on a journey from the very beginnings of human culture to the challenges and opportunities of today, in a 30,000-foot view of what we do, why we do it, and how we can do it better.

From Keith's list on help us know ourselves.

This is a brilliant and transformative book about the imaginary social components that constitute a worldview. I suppose you could quibble about the archaeological choices he made to illustrate his points, or disagree with a certain nuance of his interpretation on early theories on the evolution of our species, but that would be missing the point. This is a work of depth and understanding that should change your outlook on culture in general, and the internalized assumptions of own culture specifically, by placing it within a greater context of humanity and social evolution. I know it is a cliche, but…

From Stephen's list on big ideas in world history.

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