SAPIENS

by Yuval Noah Harari

How Homo sapiens became Earth’s dominant species.

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3 positive comments

1 neutral comments

1 negative comments

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What people are saying on Twitter (sample)

  • 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
  • @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
  • Sapiens: 'A Brief History Of Human Kind' by Yuval Noha Harari is very interesting book. Open The Thread👇
  • Sapiens is a pretty interesting book. I think absolutely everyone will have part of their beliefs attacked by it. https://t.co/DScdPYo8yB
  • @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
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    What people are saying on Amazon (sample)

    • Billed as history, this book is really an anthropological overview of humanity. I found it by accident because it was discounted at the time I was looking for some science. So I gave it a try and was happily surprised. I found it well written and authoritative. After 60 years of reading, few books present me with some idea that makes me stop, and think, and say to myself, "Yes, that is so obvious. Why didn't I think of it that way before!" That is exactly what this work did. Additionally, his view of the future for Homo Sapiens, somewhat pessimistic, matches my own views exactly.
    • I don't know what Bill Gates and Barack Obama saw in this book, but what I encountered is neither history, nor evolutionary psychology, nor really anything worthwhile. What I encountered was a very long progressive political screed.The Kindle sample is misleading, and makes it appear as if the book might be interesting. It's not.I really should have known better when Harari asserted that humans were probably happier as hunter-gatherers. I thought, "would I want to be a hunter-gatherer?" Uh, no, not so much.Harari then goes on to attempt to tear down just about every human institution of the last few thousand years as being fictional or "imaginary". Well, sure, they were all invented by humans. But that doesn't make them prima facie "bad" ideas. In Harari's world, though, they're all suspect.If you're unlucky enough to have already bought this book, call Amazon for a refund. I did.
    • This is a sweeping historical narrative of how as a species we got to where we are today from small beginnings. From the first few paragraphs, it was clear that this book is dense with information and minimal fluff, and the rest of the book did not disappoint. The writing is clear and engaging, if a bit simplistic (probably due to Hebrew-to-English translation). This book has a lot to offer, and I learned a lot.Harari emphasizes how much we has evolved with the use of "shared fictions" and story-telling, which I think is an under-appreciated lens through which to view history. There is evidence in evolutionary psychology that our minds are biased towards story-telling and narrative, in ways that do not necessarily optimize for truth-seeking, and although Harari doesn't touch on this evidence, this I found this a welcome theme throughout the book.I found a few areas of the book - areas that coincide with my own academic background - pretty weak, and sadly damage the credibility of the author. Harari heaps an almost bizarre level of disdain on the Agricultural Revolution, arguing that life was better in hunter-gathering societies. But he presents almost no evidence for this, and does not even attempt to charitably address the alternative view. The continued productivity gains from spending fewer and fewer inputs to achieve food output has freed up enormous human capital towards other endeavors (in the US only 2% of workers produce domestic food consumption - with export surplus), but Harari makes no attempt to acknowledge or address this mainline economics viewpoint, ignoring opportunity cost of human capital while focusing on the more visible costs. Relatedly, the chapters on economics beginning with "The Capitalist Creed" I found to be particularly sloppy, with virtually no citations (three to be exact) in the entire chapter, and too many appeals to emotion. Like many authors without economics training, it would be far better for Harari to have consulted with an economist to clean up the writing and avoid some common traps.Relatedly, the book contains a significant number of claims that contain neither a citation nor an effective argument in support of. In part, this is what makes the book so readable (unencumbered with too much detail or supporting argument). This is in stark contrast to "Behave" by Robert Sapolosky, which is much the opposite style (tons of detail, citations, supporting arguments, and admission of alternative views). All of this leads me to believe that this is more of an opinion piece than it's presented as.But Harari's narrative is captivating, and worth listening to. Well worth the read, so long as a small bit of skepticism is maintained.
    • Why do we read history? Winston Churchill said “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” How about looking back 13.5 billion years ago when we were primordial soup? Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens takes you on a journey from the beginning of time.Sapiens traces our species through the last 100,000 years and the Cognitive, Agricultural, Scientific, and Industrial Revolutions. Harari speaks of Communism, Capitalism, Democracy, Liberalism, Christianity and Islam etc. as if they are all religions. Brilliant! We all have to believe in some abstract concept such as equality or liberty to get us through the day. Harai demonstrates how even paper money and banking lending regulations are a bit of a sham. But belief in all these myths have fueled growth and progress. Harari argues that storytelling and dreaming is what sets us apart from all the other animals. They have enabled mankind to farm, build the pyramids, chart the globe, defy gravity, and split the atom.After the 100,000 year journey is the Homo sapiens species any happier? Harai says it depends on how you define happiness. All of man’s tremendous advances have come with some dire consequences but the biologist would have to compare the dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin levels of modern man vs the hunter gather. The answer is we are probably not any happier.If you read Sapiens will you achieve total consciousness? Probably not but Sapiens will broaden your horizons and expand your perspective of man's journey to present day. Plus it will provide you with great stories to bother your coworkers with during coffee breaks and long car rides. You can also highlight key passages to read them to your wife while she is trying to watch HGTV. All of Harai’s theories seem reasonable and are backed up with several examples. More importantly Sapiens is presented in a manner that is upbeat and anything but boring.Have you ever considered buying a ticket to India so you could climb to the top of the mountain to ask the mountain top guru about the meaning of life? You may be able to save yourself a 3000$ plane ticket and spare yourself from eating curry if you go out and buy a copy Harari’s Sapiens. If you do go to India look over the great Carnac's shoulder I’ll bet you find a copy of Sapiens levitating on his book shelf.
    • Three words come immediately to mind when trying to describe this book.Ambitious: In an eminently readable style, Hariri takes you on a fascinating ride through the 150,000-year history of Homo Sapiens. The book explores the big questions of human history.Depressing: As Hariri states, we are “the deadliest species in the annals of Planet Earth.” By a wide margin, I would add.Provocative: Hariri obviously relishes in challenging conventional understandings of history. Or, put another way, the book is rife with controversial and sometimes poorly supported theories.Even if you end up disagreeing with most of Hariri’s conclusions, this is still a lively, often-insightful, and always-thought-provoking book.I’m not surprised that the book is still sold in just about every bookstore in America, nor that President Obama read it and recommended it. “Sapiens” is one of the most interesting books of popular nonfiction to come along this decade.