SAPIENS

by Yuval Noah Harari

How Homo sapiens became Earth’s dominant species.

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  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari is also the best book I’ve ever read. Every page makes me smarter. I think it should b… https://t.co/BdRF0Kf1Cg
  • Sapiens: 'A Brief History Of Human Kind' by Yuval Noha Harari is very interesting book. Open The Thread👇
  • @ananavarro @ChrisEvans Ana and Chris, I just finished Harari 's riveting book but won't spoil it for you by tellin… https://t.co/0f0uLwqkVA
  • Sapiens is a pretty interesting book. I think absolutely everyone will have part of their beliefs attacked by it. https://t.co/DScdPYo8yB
  • @ZacharyLevi If you're enjoying 'Sapiens', a book I read earlier this year and loved, I'd highly recommend 'A Brief… https://t.co/I6HCmul5er
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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • What I LikedThe breadth of information. As I mentioned in the intro, some of my favorite nonfiction titles of all time take the same approach to history that Sapiens does. They cover a lot of ground (in this case hundreds of thousands of years), while tying different historical occurrences together through continuous threads that incorporate theories from biology, economics, sociology, psychology and politics. If you enjoyed Sapiens, you might also enjoy Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything or his At Home: A Short History Of Private Life. Harari’s Sapiens felt epochal in its span while still bringing each step in humankind’s development down to more accessible level of single tribes, civilizations, countries and individuals to provide specific examples of the themes he discusses. Harari will make you think about what has influenced the development of humans to what we are today, whether he’s discussing the myths or stories on which our societies are built (like money, corporations, religion and other social constructs), or the recent shift from nationalism to individualism (which was interesting to read about because we may be experiencing a partial reversal of this trend back to nationalism in the last decade).The details. Just as I enjoy the sweeping narrative of books like Sapiens, I also look for the author to provide contextual examples of the themes he addresses, and hopefully ones that are at least in part new to me. I love interspersed unexpected facts or vignettes of human history like the ones Harari offers in this book, from his explanation that chimps and humans are only able to organize in groups of 150 or more before organizational order breaks down to the fact that the U.S. population today actually spends more money on diets than the amount that would be needed to feed all the hungry people in the rest of the world (ugh). Whether these hidden gems of information are thought-provoking, funny, surprising or all three combined, I found a wealth of them in this book that will keep you turning the pages.It’s broadly accessible. Even if you’ve never read a book on anthropology before or are not a huge history fan, I think that Sapiens can still be a title you would enjoy. There’s nothing more fundamentally important to us as humans than the story of our origins, after all. If you’ve wondered about how civilization has developed the structure and components with which we are familiar today, from family units to nation states, from credit to writing, Sapiens would be an excellent starting point. You don’t really need to have read much beforehand about our origins as humans or similar theoretical concepts as the ones covered in this book. Even if you have strong religious beliefs that may clash with Harari’s staunchly athiest viewpoints, Sapiens will help you explore how those beliefs can still fit within a scientific and historically accurate understanding of where we’ve come from.What I Didn’t LikeHarari’s agenda showed through his writing. Each time Harari mentions the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of early sapiens or their subsequent agricultural evolution, he ends up going on a ranting rampage about the clear superiority of the first compared to the second. To Harari, early humans traipsed through gorgeous woods a la Red Riding Hood, innocently free of societal restrictions and just enjoying the nice weather (not really), and the bounties of nature. During the agricultural revolution, on the other hand, Harari argues that humans were shackled to their farms, with longer working hours, a depleted diet, aching backs from manual labor and increasing conflicts between tribes due to their newly stationary habits. The reality is that life was also brutal for our ancestors who lived as hunter-gatherers and were subject to famine, the cruelty of nature and the not unlikely risk of being eaten by a lion. Harari seems bent on convincing all of us to go paleo, get some loin cloths and return to our ‘natural state’ in the forest, which of course is a pointless endeavor to dedicate so much ranting to, because here we are.Final VerdictAside from the attemps at paleo indoctrination that permeate some sections of the book, I found Sapiens a completely engrossing, encompassing and thought-provoking introduction to our development as humans. Just ignore the paleo-romanticism.
    • I was impressed by Sapiens. I have read some books that cover some of the same material. For example, books by Jared Diamond, Nicholas Wade, and Jacob Bronowski. Of those three authors it is the closest in ambition to Bronowski's Ascent of Man back from the 1970's, except it is significantly better. I thought the book almost merged into moral and political philosophy because it was subtly giving you analytical tools to judge culture. For example the book states all large societies use great myths (religion, countries, moral codes, money, financial institutions, family institutions) to generate the social cohesion to make large societies function. But can we judge one more or less moral than another? I think the answer implies the answer is yes and implies some criteria.It not only merges into moral philosophy but it also merges into the realms of religion replacing religion with science. That is not uncommon, but when you get a sharp thinker and writer like Harari it is much more convincing.Maybe my biggest fault with the book is that it reaffirmed by own biases too much so it is hard for me to tell if the reasoning is as good as I think it is or whether the reasoning only seems really good because its reaffirming my own biases. For example I became a vegetarian in my early 20's for moral reasons (I didn't like the way animals were treated). I felt like the author agreed with me. In the end I felt like the author just a slightly smarter version of myself who gave me better arguments to substantiate the beliefs I already have so I have a natural bias for this book.Also how did this book get over 3000 reviews? Seriously! It is well argued and interesting, but its not a polemic designed to enflame one side and laud another side so I have no idea how 3000 people were motivated enough to write a review.
    • Any history of Homo Sapiens would be a colossal undertaking. Unfortunately, this book isn't it.The good news:The book started off as a captivating discussion of the development and rise of our species. It reminded me that Homo Erectus spent a million years using stone tools but went no further. That Neanderthals disappeared in Europe when Homo Sapiens arrived. And at least for me, a fresh set of insights about the Agricultural Revolution - it was an accident, we can't go back, and if it hadn't happened we'd lack anything we call civilization.Some other provocative assertions were worth pondering. Humans are nothing more than animals with ideas. Ideas are lies we tell ourselves. And that humans unite when they shared delusions - whether it's religions, nationalism, or sports teams. Also, our entire economic system - money, capitalism, et al, is another delusion that requires our faith in order to survive.The bad news:It's not a history - it's "Pop History." Superficial with lots of bold assertions without any corroborating evidence. With five minutes on Google you can discover that some of the most outlandish stories are false (i.e. the Apollo astronauts encounter with the Navajo Indians.) If you thought Joseph Campbell's "Hero With a Thousand Faces" was based on real research you'll love this book. Much like Campbell Harari has given us an opinion piece disguised as a "history of humankind".The book can be generously called a set of personal meditations of history and human nature, but done with little research and even scanter evidence. If it had been labeled such I might have approached the second half of the book differently.
    • I decided to read this book after seeing the stellar Amazon reviews from so many other readers, but was pretty disappointed after reading it.While the author makes some interesting and thought provoking points about culture and society, I found most of the book to be a tedious mish-mash of so-called revelations about obvious facts, cursory recitation of selective scientific research on various issues, and mostly the author's personal views on various issues which he tries to pass off as "the truth".One example: the author goes on and on about how humankind made a foolish but voluntary decision to transition from hunting/foraging to agriculture--the happy-go-lucky hunter became the toiling peasant, on a purely voluntary basis--ie, if the hunter/forager knew what was good for him (the author clearly believes that he did not), then mankind would have continued as hunter/foragers forever, living what the author considers to be an idyllic existence. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the book, the author notes that most large animals became extinct shortly after Sapiens moved into their habitat... Hello, maybe hunter/foragers had no choice but to move to agriculture because hunting/foraging had become unsustainable--hunter/foragers had already devoured all of the resources (large game, berries, fish, whatever) within their range, and so had the choice of transitioning to agriculture or starving.I'm no expert, but I lost confidence in the author when he did not even raise the scenario above as a possibility but rather prefers to deride the disastrous but avoidable move to agriculture...many of his arguments seemed to be based on his personal beliefs/ideology rather than science or even common sense.The author makes many similar arguments in the book, but I won't recount them all. Generally, I would rate most of this book as two stars, but have tacked on a star because he does make some interesting points.
    • I really don't get why this book is getting so many good reviews. It starts excellently and I learned a lot about early human history and Homo Erectus, Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens, and why and how we became the dominant species. Once you get past that and into more recent human history the book goes off the rails. It's pretty obvious the author has an ax to grind against religion. I'm not religious myself but I found it extremely off putting. I'm not even sure I can finish this book. I ended up scanning pages and pages to get past the vitriol against Catholics, Buddhists, whatever. I have no problem with someones opinion on religion but I wanted a history lesson not chapters telling me how stupid our ancestors and us are for believing in religion or faith. Not to mention the complete lack of context for historical events and using randomness to explain everything. I'm sorry but not every historical even is random and we can predict things based on current events. But the scientific revolution is here to save us all and is going to provide all the answers we will ever need. All of this coming from an uber nerd who loves science and all things related to it.TL;DRStarts good, ends up a diatribe against religion