Sapiens

Yuval Noah Harari

★★★★★

 

A journey from the origins of humankind to the present day (and beyond).

Harari manages to explain the key events in the evolution and history of Homo Sapiens without ever resorting to over-simplification or the narrative fallacy. He describes (and picks apart) the key evolutionary, cultural, ethical, political and economic developments of our species and civilisation.

Despite covering a huge range of topics, the book flows well from beginning to end. No topic feels rushed or brushed over. Harari acknowledges gaps in our understanding wherever they exist, rather than trying to fit together some kind of pretty answer to fill the gap.

The book doesn’t limit itself to history — it also poses questions about what is right and wrong, what makes us happy and what is desirable. Its biggest value is in its ability to point out recurring themes and learn from previous mistakes. As hatred and fear become the backbone of the political agenda, it’s incredibly valuable to recognise the devastating effect that the politics of hate and fear has had in the past. Moreover, despite claims of originality, the hateful policy of Trump and others is shown to merely be a replication of previous ideas — just with a new set of scapegoats.