Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Details of the Book
No. of Pages   : 464 Pages
ISBN               : ISBN-10: 0062316095 and ISBN-13: 978-0062316097
Language         : English

From the book blurb
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behavior from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future.

Yuval Noah Harari was born in Haifa, Israel, to Lebanese parents in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He specialized in World History, medieval history and military history. His current research focuses on macro-historical questions: What is the relation between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded?

What I think

Reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has been one of the most enriching experiences ever. I am not sure if I could generically classify it as a non-fiction or specifically say that it is a blend of history and evolution of human beings. It beautifully captures who we used to be to who we are today and what we may become in future. The facts such as the accidental invention of fire, our own cognitive superiority among other living beings,  idea of religion and the unifying as well as discriminating facts such as God, gender, wealth and so on as well as the impact of agricultural, industrial and scientific revolutions are also put forth in detail.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is special because of the facts with which it is backed. Also, the unique and compelling writing is another reason. Not to mention, the author’s expertise through years of research is another exciting reason.

As I write this blog, I am not particularly sure how I could review this book. This is not ordinary. This is one of its types – best in class. When the author blatantly dismisses the existence of God or the afterlife and at the same time provides scientific as well as psychological reasons, we are made to think. After all, we sapiens are blessed with the ability to rationally and objectively evaluate almost everything. The reason for gender discrimination and the extensive practice of patriarchy is another overarching truth which is presented with facts. It also caters into how money single handedly transformed our today and how consumerism could shape our future. It extensively also discusses the ideologies of various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. At the same time, it also confirms that man is a social animal whose happiness is not only derived from a healthy intersection of ones expectations VS reality but also from his/her social interactions and bonds.

I could go on writing hundreds of thousands of essays on what I actually learnt new or understood better from this book. But, that’s not the point. What really matters is when more of us pick this little book of great information and understand our own evolution.

Pick this one. You will cherish and celebrate the way I do