A book review.
“The world does not revolve around humans or around any other particular group of beings.” - Harari
The evolution of humans have always been an interesting topic for me. For as long as I remember, I used to read a ton about human history from whatever book I could find. It was in this hobby pursuit that I came upon the book 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari. I became a Harari fan right after reading Sapiens.
Harari compiles the scientific findings about human history and presents it with his own touch. The way the book slowly explains the importance of each step in the evolutionary process truly glued me in to the book.
Sapiens is a book about the history of humankind, covering the period from the emergence of Homo sapiens around 300,000 years ago up until the present day. The book provides a comprehensive overview of human history, discussing the key developments and milestones that have shaped our species.
Harari argues that the ability of humans to create and believe in abstract concepts such as money, religion, and nations is what has allowed us to dominate the planet and build complex societies. This still continues to let us cooperate in large groups and create complex social structures. The book covers a range of topics, including the agricultural revolution, the emergence of empires and nation-states, the scientific revolution, and the rise of capitalism.
Harari is critical of many aspects of modern society, including consumer culture, political polarization, and the impact of technology on our lives. Throughout the book, Harari provides a critical analysis of modern society, arguing that many of the features that we take for granted are actually harmful to our well-being. He also explores the ethical implications of our actions as a species, such as our treatment of animals, the environment, and other humans. Sapiens is not just a history book; it is also a reflection on the ethical implications of our actions as a species, encouraging us to consider the impact that we have on the world around us.
One of the most controversial parts of the book is Harari's argument that the human pursuit of progress and economic growth may ultimately lead to our own destruction.
Harari is critical of the idea that human progress is always a good thing, arguing that our relentless pursuit of economic growth and technological advancement may ultimately lead to our own downfall.
Sapiens has been widely praised for its accessible writing style, its thought-provoking ideas, and its ability to make readers see the world in a new way. The book has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful nonfiction books of the 21st century.
Harari has since written two more books, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, which expand on the themes of Sapiens and explore the future of humankind.
One line Harari wrote in the book always stood out to me. "The real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mysterious glue that enables millions of humans to cooperate effectively. This mysterious glue is made of stories, not genes."
Stories. The real power that drives the human race. Throughout the book, Harari gives many examples on the various 'stories' that humankind has created. These stories have made civilisations; and also destroyed them. It is these stories that gives us an energy and the belief in what life has got to offer. The stories enable us to move forward, towards a hopeful future. We may not be able to predict the future, but we all have some form of belief. Irrespective of whether it is religious or not, we connect with the stories that fall into our belief system. We connect with the people who also believe like us. Thus small communities will slowly take shape. All these groups have the potential to drive the world. To make the next story. The story of our future. I believe each of these stories are valid. We must lend our ears to hear these stories. We must be open to adopt the principles that carry those notions forward, which will benefit many generations to come. For that we must understand our history, workout in the present and cherish for a new future. Harari examines the possibility of this future in his book 'Homo Deus', as well as about the present in his book '21 Lessons for the 21st Century'. About those in another review.