Book reviews



– A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Animal-like humans first appeared 2.5 million years ago and Harari, master storyteller, narrates an extraordinary tale of our odyssey from the moment Homo Sapiens began to reign supreme (150,000 years ago) to today.

Big Ideas:

  1. Three major revolutions shaped who we are. The Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), The Agricultural Revolution (12,000 years ago) and The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago which triggered the Industrial Revolution (250 years ago), The Information Revolution (50) and The Biotechnical Revolution (now).
  2. The Cognitive Revolution was the game-changer. The invention of fire improved our diet, causing our brains to expand and language and imagination to emerge. Sapiens developed the ability not only to communicate but to cooperate flexibly in large numbers (and see off the Neanderthals!).
  3. The Agricultural Revolution, though producing more food, caused greater harm than good and negatively affected the quality of life. “We may be living in high-rise appartments with over-stuffed refrigerators, but our DNA still thinks we are in the savannah.”
  4. Imagination gave Sapiens the power to create ‘imagined realities’ such as religion, money and nationalism.
  5. The emergence of Biotechnology and Artificial Intelligence could see Sapiens replaced by completely different beings who may enjoy immortality. (See his next book Deus)

Sapiens will certainly make you feel uncomfortable and challenge your beliefs but, at the same time, will enable you to filter the world through a new lens. Enjoy.