Narrator: Derek Perkins
Published by Harper Audio on August 15, 2017 (first published 2011)
Length: 15 hrs 17 mins
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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 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, paleontology 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.
Sapiens looks at our history, but that history is 100,000 years long, so it’s more of a quick overview of our history. I found it rather fascinating though. He takes us through the history of human development and migration, through the Cognitive Revolution, and Agricultural Revolution. He looks at how currency and coinage developed, the creation of religions, the arrival of imperialism and capitalism, and the history of inequalities and injustices.
Yes, he has his own biases, but I loved the bits of information. So many things from this book pulled into conversations I was having, like the worth of a slave’s life and the bank run in It’s a Wonderful Life (which I’ve never watched by the way).
In the end, he veers off into predictions for the future. I, personally, didn’t find it particularly pessimistic, and there was a lot of hope too, like how relatively peaceful it is now.
If you love history, I wouldn’t suggest reading this, I think a.) you’d already know a lot of the information and b.) the fact that most of history is skimmed over as necessitated by the scope of the book would annoy you. But, if like me, you’re dabbling in non-fiction, Sapiens is entertaining, easy to follow, and will probably make you feel like you learned at least a little bit.
We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.