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Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Harari, made it on my reading list after hearing about Mark Zuckerberg’s list of books everyone should read. And since then, I’ve seen other recommendations for reading it, such as the recommendation from Bill Gates. Having now read Sapiens, I’m recommending people read it as well.

SapiensSapiens takes the reader on an interesting journey through three revolutions of homo sapiens; the cognitive, agricultural, and scientific. Through these revolutions, Harari discusses how these revolutions changed humans and our society.  He looks at what our life was like in the past, an how pre-agricultural revolution homo sapiens may have lived happier lives, which I didn’t agree with.  And he moves forward through the revolutions to look at the future and the impact of knowledge from the scientific revolution and artificial intelligence.

There are a few things I found interesting in Sapiens. First, how he described our rules of society, money, and basic interpretation of the world as being based on an agreed upon fiction. Not that the don’t exist but they aren’t material in the same way that the physical world exists. Most of the world we experience is based on concepts built on abstract ideas that we all trust and agree to go along with.


Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised. -Yuval Harari
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The other bit that was pretty was the discussions around religion. In it, he discussed the traditional concepts of religion but also included other belief systems, such as liberalism, capitalism, and environmentalism. While these may not seem like religions in the traditional sense, the parallels he draws between natural religions and these philosophies is pretty compelling.


A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids. -Yuval Harari
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Sapiens is a great book that will leave you thinking about where humankind is going, I definitely recommend reading. It provided a great opportunity to think about the world we live in and the fictions that we subscribe to. Take a chance and give it a read, I think it’ll change your perspectives.

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