Sapiens by Yuval Harari
A Brief History of Humankind

69%

20 Critic Reviews

Writing with wit and verve, Harari, professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attempts to explain how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth...Harari is provocative and entertaining but his expansive scope only allows him to skim the surface.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

New York Times Bestseller

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

 

About Yuval Harari

See more books from this Author
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari lectures in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 2002. He specializes in world history, medieval history and military history, and his current research focuses on macro-historical questions like the relationship between history and biology. He lives in Israel.
 
Published February 10, 2015 by Harper. 469 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for Sapiens
All: 20 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Excellent
on Nov 15 2014

Throughout, the author revels in the chaos of history. He discusses the good and bad of empires and science, suggests that modern economic history comes down to a single word (“growth”), rues the loss of familial and societal safety nets...The great debates of history aired out with satisfying vigor.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Nov 14 2014

Writing with wit and verve, Harari, professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attempts to explain how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth...Harari is provocative and entertaining but his expansive scope only allows him to skim the surface.

Read Full Review of Sapiens: A Brief History of H... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Ben Shephard on Sep 20 2014

...Sapiens is one of those rare books that lives up to the publisher’s blurb. It really is thrilling and breath-taking; it actually does question our basic narrative of the world.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Galen Strawson on Sep 11 2014

Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Robert Davis on Nov 24 2015

Although designed for a popular audience Sapiens is also for the new student of the broadest history imaginable.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Linda Chalmer Zemel on Feb 11 2015

The book is a timely look at what we are and where we are going at times that seem well-matched to an open discussion of just that casual fact.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Peter Forbes on Sep 04 2014

Inevitably, in a "big picture" account such as this, some portions of the canvas are less hatched in than others. For this reader, these later sections seemed weaker, but in the last chapter the brio returns as Harari considers what humankind...will became now that it is also a biological creator.

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by Tom Payne on Sep 26 2014

When he does reach a conclusion, this ability to say one thing of a historical development and then another can be a problem; and the book, constructed in short, lucid episodes, can be satisfyingly read as a sequence of provocative talks, at once well informed and vatic.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Deborah Hopkinson on Feb 01 2015

Harari’s scope is both deep and broad, yet while immersing the reader in the sweep of history, he also presents fascinating information about the roles money, science and religion have played.

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PopMatters

Above average
Reviewed by WILL DAY-BROSNAN on Aug 13 2015

There’s a great pleasure in reading this book purely for the provocation, as you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with arguments Harari presents. Sapiens is a true exemplar of the popular history genre.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Glyn Davis on Nov 22 2014

Whatever the flaws, Sapiens is compelling. There are unexpected takes on conventional wisdom, astonishing compression to produce impressive synthesis and many tough judgments about our species worth reflection.

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Bookin With Sunny.

Above average
Reviewed by Neal Ferguson on Oct 15 2016

These are heady ideas, and the book is full of such far-reaching contentions. The evidence for some of his intellectual leaps and claims is thin. Nevertheless, if you want a book that will make you think and question at least one of your cherished beliefs, consider Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

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The Australian

Above average
Reviewed by Miriam Cosic on Nov 08 2014

Harari avoids cliches of thinking, though he is prone to them in writing, but it’s unclear whether that’s because he is strikingly original, has huge gaps in his knowledge or deliberately refuses to peddle the same-old to help his readers think afresh.

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Huffington Post

Above average
Reviewed by Matt Clifford on Aug 28 2015

I've rarely enjoyed a book I've disagreed with so much. I highly recommend both reading it and wresting with it. There's a lot to discuss...

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Times Higher Education

Above average
Reviewed by Chris Knight on Oct 02 2014

Don’t turn to Sapiens for inspiration, solid scientific enlightenment or a renewed sense of anti-capitalist purpose. There’s too much salesmanship and sensationalism in this book. But it does ring alarm bells that we should not ignore.

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Ben Casnocha

Good
Reviewed by Ben Casnocha on Nov 15 2016

It’s extraordinary in scope, engagingly written, and full of provocative factoids that make you stop and think.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Charles C Mann on Feb 06 2015

“Sapiens” reminded me occasionally of a discussions on Reddit, where users sound off about supposed iron laws of history...I’m not so sure. I like the book’s verve and pop but wish it didn’t have all those fleas.

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Albedo One

Good
Reviewed by Roderick MacDonald on Oct 10 2014

Harari’s book is written in a very easy to read style and the concepts he puts forward are made in a competent and logical fashion, so much so that they tend to be regarded favourably by the reader.

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Ask Men

Above average
Reviewed by Michael McKenna on Mar 08 2015

Harari’s analysis of these events, from the beginnings of religion and money to the Industrial Revolution, is unique insofar as it asks us to account for the happiness delivered by these things rather than for the unity or the plenty, but it is Sapiens’ account of prehistory that gives the book its singular purpose.

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http://indianexpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Pratik Kanjilal on Feb 14 2015

Harari does, in fact, what James A Michener did in fiction. He tells a tale with a dramatic sweep that begins at the beginning of time and proceeds, guided by meticulous research, to the present day.

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Reader Rating for Sapiens
85%

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