Book Review | Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Birth: February 24, 1976, Kiryat Ata, Israel

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - 2011

Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, philosopher and writer, was born in 1976. He completed his doctorate in history at Oxford University in 2002. He is currently teaching world history at the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Department of History.

And he is the author of worldwide bestseller books such as "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow" and "21 Lessons for the 21st Century".

In 2019, Itzik Yahav and Yuval Noah Harari founded "Sapienship", whose mission is to clarify global conversation, focus attention on the most important challenges and support the search for solutions.

An interesting and thoughtful read for history buffs, and really for non-fiction readers who might be curious about how we as a species got here.

It is a commonly held belief that we humans have rightfully emerged to "rule over all the creatures of the earth". This book really makes me think about this assumption. Also the writing is quick, accessible. I just couldn't wait to see what happens next. It's the kind of book where you are dying to jump to the end to see how it all ties together. But you don't because you don't want it to end.

As a result, Sapiens is an important history book but not like the others, it is more like a novel.

“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“Nothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.” /Yuval Noah Harari

“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.”

“Consistency is the playground of dull minds.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.” /Yuval Noah Harari
“The romantic contrast between modern industry that “destroys nature” and our ancestors who “lived in harmony with nature” is groundless. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of life.” /Yuval Noah Harari

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