Book Review: Sapiens

Book Review: Sapiens

I fucking hate when people recommend me books and give me high hopes and fucking high expectations. You got it, I was mad when I finished this book. This lecture left me unsatisfied, and I prefer to finish books on a high and great note…

Synopsis:

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.

My opinion:

I read it with high expectations and this is the worst mistake I ever did! The problem is, so many people recommended it to me. And this book is listed in the must-read sections of so many famous celebrities and « reading experts »…

I was attracted to the book because of the title. Call me a book nerd, but if I see a title linked to history, science or both, I just buy it compulsively. Sapiens is an intriguing book as it « covers » the wonder and beauty of evolution from the « beginning » until the future and AI. The end is covering some possibilities on where are we going based on our history and current science progress across industries 😀

As soon as I finished the book, I was like, « And? So what? ». There was almost no new additional information, as most subjects and theories covered were either known via, books, a history class, a visit to a museum or by watching a documentary on Youtube or TV. It’s ambitious to want to write the history of humanity under 500 pages, but not at all realistic. It shrunk many topics and reduced theories to a specific scope that matched his storytelling. I felt like I was reading a random trivia of major events that impacted and changed civilization and « Sapiens » lives. SO much data was lost or overlooked for the benefit of the Sapiens story line.

I am quite happy he wrote this book as it is a good introduction to the evolution and history of humanity for beginners, but it is to be taken as a grain of salt. You cant reduce the story of empires such as the roman or others in a paragraph or two! As a big big fan of history and a scientist, I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapters of the book as he is explained in a very clear and concise way the Human evolution and how the Homo Sapiens « came to life ». But the rest of the book felt like an essay and a collection of random articles that the author liked. Especially for the agricultural and industrial revolutions, as humanity benefited from these eras, contrary to what is stated in Sapiens. I mean, how the fuck can he discuss the positive impact of the agricultural revolution and call it a fraud? Humans stopped hunting and moving all the time to look for food and hunt it. They were finally able to provide a steady source of food, experiment with new grains and soil, ensure survival of the species…WAS HE HIGH WHEN HE WROTE THAT CHAPTER????

For a teacher, I am a « bit » disappointed in the writing as it was not balanced. Let me explain myself: Some subjects/ chapters were detailed more than others and it felt like the author had more pleasure in researching and writing these. Don’t get me wrong, the text is written in a basic and simple manner, which make it easy to read for non-subject experts. Its fluid in that sense and is a good text for such a rich subject. Yet 70% of the book is presented as author’s random ideas and opinions on many historical event, presented with few introduction or historical context.

Nevertheless, I liked the cute mentions of some « Harry potter » characters and scene as examples supporting his theory. That is also a good point as he gave some interesting and amazing insights on complicated theories and subject. He used relatable examples 😀

Also, I LOVED the diplomacy in which he covered some subjects, it was like he wanted to cover many critical subjects by stating facts and giving a fair chance to everybody, without taking a side. There are some really cleverly written chapters especially the one about money, slavery and empires. I am still skeptical about the one about religion 😀

« Sapiens » is a good book as an introduction to the evolution theory or Darwinism. It is a good book to read before going to the museum to look at artifacts, but to call it a best-seller material is pushing it too far 😀 Especially with the Marketing using Bill Gates and Obama as people recommending it. I am genuinely questioning the knowledge of these 2 men if this is the kind of book that satisfies them.

I am going to read the remaining 2 books just out of morbid curiosity and I hate not finishing trilogies 😀