Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari was an interesting read (or rather, listen -- as I enjoyed this one via audiobook). As the title indicates, the book explores humankind. One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Today, however, there is only one - homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And in what direction is life going for our species? The author is a renowned historian. He delves into the ways both biology and history have defined us and how they have enhanced our understanding "of what it means to be human."
The book takes readers back 70,000 years "with the appearance of modern cognition." I found it to be a thought-provoking book loaded with science, history and interesting information. The book covers so many topics and many that do not have answers but do provoke questions, theories, etc. The reasoning for gossip. The importance of fiction and storytelling. And much more.
Harari writes, "“Don’t believe our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Homo sapiens hold the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions." The author provides a sort of "crash course" in the giant animals that existed on earth for thousands of years until humans killed them off in a matter of decades: the giant diprotodon, a 2.5 ton wombat, dragon-like lizards, snakes seven feet long, a 450 pound six foot kangaroo, a marsupial lion as massive as the modern tiger, a flightless elephant bird - ten feet tall and half a ton (the largest bird in the world),and the giant lemur (earth’s largest primate). Dr. Harari continues to touch on the fact that animals have paid a terrible price for the rise of sapiens from the hunter-gatherer days to the factory farms of today. He adds, "If we accept a mere tenth of what animal rights activists are claiming, then modern industrial agriculture might well be the greatest crime in history.”
I did find that the physical book has 27 photographs, 6 maps and 25 illustrations/diagrams and as I chose to listen to the audiobook version, unfortunately, I missed out on these additions.
Every concept is introduced and shared with interesting stories. Dr. Harari recounts the past and also provides speculations as to our future as a species.
Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind is a worthwhile read and well-researched. It is a long book and there are some sections in the book, I felt, that went on a bit too long. But pushing through few those sections comes with reward, as the book as a whole is incredibly insightful and thought provoking.
Do you plan to read this book - or have you already?
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