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The author tries to sound intelligent, but his statements are really half-truths connected by sloppy logic links. Even by the standard of popular history/science, the quality of this "introductory history of humankind" is poor. The book contains facts mixed with the author's naive opinions about a broad range of topics disguised as facts.
Learning history from Yuval Harari is like relying on Facebook feed as your only source of news, you get hooked by the content easily, albeit it's mostly disinformation.
Bestsellers are based not on the quality of the product but the quality of the promotion. This book makes that abundantly clear. This is the worst book I can recall reading. The hype and first few pages hold out hope for a monumental undertaking. That hope is dashed a few pages after a few pages. It deteriorates into an aimless journey of ‘theories’ based on unending, mundane examples. It is like a bad movie that you watch to the end waiting for a redeeming feature. It never comes. The author’s ‘humour’ is that rare combination of English humour and historian’s wit. It is not that it is so clever you don’t ‘get’ it, it just isn’t funny. The author seems to ignore a prevalent theory that Neanderthal is Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, a sub-species of homo sapiens sapiens, who interbred with Homo sapiens sapiens, thus making up part of the modern non-African genome. Maybe it was ‘inconvenient’ to his ‘theory.’ It also appears the majority of sapiens are also inconvenient as he ignores all but Western sapiens. Someone who spends that much effort to be politically correct is usually over-compensating? When it does come to the political ‘correctness,’ he refers to the People’s Republic of China as ‘Communist China,’ an incorrect name used by the uninformed and, apparently, bestselling authors. Despite his earlier description of communism and capitalism as economic systems, he concludes they are “social organisations.” This book should not be relegated to a back shelf. It should be relegated to the garbage. That is what it is – garbage.
Bill Gates, Barrack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg all love this half baked postmodern, neo Heglian, neo Marxist, reductionist, animal rightist, hodge podge? The author is smart and knows how to turn a phrase, but announces Truth from Olympus while dismissing others' world views as myths. Evidently the only thing he does not know about is the self referential paradox. Everyone but the author lives in a myth. He will tell us the real Story, as though his story is not a myth. One thing I am sure of, 100 years from now no one will remember this book was ever written.
Half the book is very interesting after which it becomes a drag to read. Too preachy with less history. His book begins in a most promising way, weaving history and narrative in a way that breaks down preconceived notions of linear evolution. It's terrific at this point. At roughly page 120, the book begins to veer into a bizarre social justice screed, and the author begins citing as true facts things that are neither footnoted nor true. It became so poorly sourced and agenda-driven that I had to set it down, as it differed significantly from all that preceded it.
It's not a history - it's "Pop History." Superficial with lots of bold assertions without any corroborating evidence. With five minutes on Google you can discover that some of the most outlandish stories are false. At many times in the book I felt the author departed from what scientific evidence/research supports and instead conveyed a more political/biased view of things.
I would have liked to have him bring his educated opinions, emotions and humanity into the book more directly and openly, with facts and ideas that show how he arrived at these beliefs, rather than disguise his emotions as science and cherry pick a few facts to support himself. It cheapened what could otherwise have been a very good, thought provoking and otherwise well written book.
Given his next book is about the future, I am going to avoid it. In the middle of the book, I even wanted to give it up. Towards the end I had to push myself through the book.
This seems like a cheap replica of the original book. I have read from the original book and the quality of pages and printing in this copy is just terrible. The author regularly makes use of pictures and diagrams to aide his point but because of the print, the images are not discernible at all (see attached image). The paper used is the sort that government schools use to print their question papers, it will tear at the slightest of tugs. I don't recommend you buy this just because of the terrible quality.
Yuval Noah Harari attempts to succinctly retell a grand story, our own story, that spans nearly 300,000 years to the present day. How we began as a marginal, nomadic band of hunter-gatherers and foragers in the sweltering wastes of East Africa to our present preeminence as a species. From an animal of no real significance to the undisputed governing force that shaped and continues to shape the world, for better or worse. We have made leaps and bounds in our startlingly brief existence on this planet.
Harari succeeds at drawing you into his own colorful and unique perspective on our humble origins in the plains of East Africa to our transition to farmers in the Agricultural Revolution and eventually rising all the way to the top. This book should not be treated as an academic and comprehensive thesis on anthropology, to treat it as such is to miss the point in my opinion. It is instead if you go into it with an open mind and a keen interest in the topic, is a fascinating and deeply thought-provoking take on ourselves as a species and what we have achieved, but also inevitably the price paid for our newfound supremacy. It's enlightening as well as sobering, and Harari toes that delicate line of acknowledging and even exalting our obvious accomplishments as a species (of which they are many) but also tempering that with the careful and measured hindsight of someone who is under no illusions. It's a balanced and fair assessment for the most part, even if at times he does resort to sensationalizing and leaning too much on his own subjective feelings at times as opposed to the facts objectively.
I'd highly recommend this book to all my fellow sapiens. It will shock you as well as inform you.
This is a book for you if you like reading stories. At many places, the facts are presented incorrectly. For example, in chapter 12, he writes "... In Hindu polytheism, a single principle, Atman, controls the myriad gods and spirit, humankind, and the biological and physical world. Atman is the eternal essence or soul of the entire universe, as well as of every individual and every phenomenon." Anyone who studied Hinduism will find it difficult to digest. Also his comments on communism and Buddhism reflects his superficial understanding of the subject. The book is full of personal opinions and more like a work of fiction. The author adopted the reductionist approach of science to depict humans and nature merely as complicated machines and predicted that the artificial intelligence would soon replace every function of human cognition. The author preaches his philosophy authoritatively.
The feeling you have, in the course of reading the book, is that an author of high intellect views from a high vantage point, the unfolding drama of human history with singular clarity. You are impressed with the erudition of the author which extends beyond historical facts and human history to what it means to be human and to diverse fields such as anthropology, genetics, evolution, ecology, behavior, culture, economics, and science in general. The author is endowed with a deep insight but his most impressive trait is the originality of his mind. In this regard, he presents two human traits, emanating from the capacity of abstract thinking namely myth making and imaginary reality. As examples of myth making, the author cites religion, ideology, and nationalism. The merit of these myths is that they expanded the capacity of human beings of associating and belonging from small numbered bands to thousands and eventually millions. The negative side is that humans believe in these myths to the extent that there are religious wars and ethnic cleansing. As an example of imaginary reality, the author cites the corporation of limited liability which made possible production and trade. Finally he mentions the creation of money which is rendered possible through trust.
The book covers a huge time span, from the appearance of Homo sapiens 70,000 years ago to the 21st century. The author was able to accommodate this huge period of human history in four hundred pages due to his discriminating ability for the essential.
The characteristics that endowed Homo sapiens with huge advantages were his large brain, abstract thinking, superior learning abilities, language and communication, the use of tools, and complex social structures.
For many millennia following their exodus from Africa, humans existed as hunters-gatherers.
The invention of Agriculture occurred 10,000 years ago. Agriculture resulted in sedentary life, accumulation of food surpluses, creation of cities, stratification of society, with bureaucracy, army, priesthood, nobility, kings and the creation of empires. Credit and detailed accounts led initially to the discovery of partial script confined to Arithmetic such as the Sumerian script in Mesopotamia. Eventually full script was invented for the writing of text such as the Cuneiform in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphics in Egypt.
The next landmark in human history took place five hundred years ago with the scientific revolution.
The scientific revolution was followed two hundred years ago by the industrial revolution which in combination with energy and capital resulted in unprecedented growth, wealth accumulation - albeit unequally - and population explosion. Industrialization was intimately connected with Imperialism and the colonization of a large part of the globe by the European powers during the nineteenth century.
The industrial growth by the end of the twentieth century along with the uncritical subjugation of the planet led to very serious ecological degradation posing a danger for the very survival of the human species.
Finally, in the early twenty-first century with the rapid development of genetic engineering, we are witnessing the transition from the Darwinian evolution to 'intelligent design' with the human animal playing the role of god.
Probably the most trite, simplistic and woefully platitudinous history of mankind that will ever be written. At least I hope so. Vacuous, driven by opinion and hopelessly facile... Just find the passage about Ghandi: read, laugh then weep. Ladybird history at best. Utter tosh.