Review: Sapiens — Yuval Noah Harari

Genre:                        Non-Fiction, History, Philosophy, Psychology

Publisher:                  Uitgeverij Thomas Rap

ISBN:                          978-94-004-0793-0

Format:                      Paperback

Pages:                         462

Release date:            December 2018 (32nd reprint)

I had heard so much about this book and when Bren and me visited the bookstore in Alphen aan den Rijn, Haasbeek, she gave me this book as a gift. As soon as I finished my other non-fiction read I started reading Sapiens immediately. I was excited to start in this book! 😀

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Yuval Noah Harari takes you on a trip through the history of humankind in this book. How we grew from a small, uninteresting little group of apes to the rulers of planet Earth. The book is divided into several parts, where several revolutions are covered and we skip forward in time each chapter.

In the first part; the cognitive revolution Yuval Noah Harari tells us about how humans gradually became smarter and gained the power to think forward and create imaginary constructions. When you think about it, we’re living in a world of make believe and madness that only exists because of a collective belief in all kinds of imaginary things. This isn’t just about religion, but also about companies (legal entities) and our values.

Once humans left behind their hunter-gatherer’s life and settled down to grow crops, this allowed a growth that had not been witnessed before. Humanity paid a price with large amounts of discomfort with the agrarian revolution, but at the same time, this allowed us to grow. If this revolution had never taken place, we would not be living in the world as we know it now.

“How do you get people to believe in an imaginary order like Christianity, democracy or capitalism? To start with, you never admit that the order is imaginary. You keep swearing by all that is holy that the order on which society is based is an objective reality, that is created by almighty Gods, or laws of nature.” — Page 125

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I read the Dutch version of Sapiens, as you can see 🙂

This book is crammed with facts that will make you wonder just how humanity ever got this far. The third part of the book is about the unification of mankind and how we’ve evolved from several smaller kingdoms into one global community that seems to get entangled further and further, despite the current trend we’re seeing with right wing parties gaining more popularity in several western societies like the US and Europe. Despite all that, we’ve become dependent on one another in such a way it’s hard to really say there’s still different cultures as we adopt each other’s values, habits and philosophies.

“Most people will swear that their social hierarchy is a natural, righteous phenomenon, while those of other people are based on false, ridiculous criteria. Modern westerners have learned that the idea of a racial hierarchy is too ridiculous for words. Laws that forbid black people to live near white people, or go to white schools, or get treatment in hospitals for white people will appall them. But the hierarchy of rich and poor, that dictates that rich people live in separate, more luxurious houses, go to more prestigious schools and get better medical care in superior facilities, sounds perfectly normal to most Americans and Europeans.” — Page 149

The last part of the book covers the scientific revolutions and how rapidly it affected the progress of humankind and the technology at our disposal. Yuval Noah Harari tells us how this revolution was made possible and what was necessary to get us this far.

I really enjoyed this book! The first part was over before I knew it, but as I progressed I noticed my attention was getting a bit less focused, mainly because I already know a lot about the scientific revolution. Another thing that bothered me a little was the size of the font, which would’ve been a bit more comfortable if it had been slightly larger. Despite all that this book is a must-read and I highly recommend it to everyone. If you’re looking for a book that will amaze you about how a bunch of apes made it this far, this is the book you’re looking for!

The last part of this book is about different future developments, which are covered in greater detail in the sequel to this book called Homo Deus. I already have that one on my TBR pile en hope to read it later this year. But for now, I’m content reminiscing on Sapiens. What a great read!

Rating:

Cover art: 🌟🌟🌟
Paper smell: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Print/lettering: 🌟🌟🌟½
Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Content: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy reading!

Jeffrey

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