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Harari has a knack of weaving complex and interesting concepts into stories, which allows the reader to feel smarter for having understood him. The book is very interesting and despite its length, can be zipped through due to its easy reading style.
Unfortunately, I also have to agree with many of the one star reviewers, that the books downfall is the almost constant speculation he engages in, without providing further evidence.
As an example, he states 'the creators of the cave paintings at Chauvet, Lascaux and Altmira almost certainly intended them to last for generations.'
This kind of statement is endemic of the sloppy thinking he engages in, where he will assume something for the sake of the narrative.
This wouldn't be a problem if it were in isolation, but it is a pattern repeated throughout the book, where he will base a conclusion off an assumption, then proceed to build a whole story off it. This relegates the book to a speculation rather than a historical account.
I would also advice Christians that he is rather condescending about religion in general and Christianity in particular. He describes Christianity as a 'myth' to be put in the same category as belief in Odin or in Wood Spirits. AS a Non-Christian I was annoyed over his presumptive anti-theism so I have no doubt that many believers will find him infuriating.
To sum up, this is an interesting and infuriating speculation of the humankind. Take it all with a shaker of salt.
I am not going to lie the book was an interesting read and the author has a great skill in jumping from topic to topic.
Hovewer, majority of the book consists of things of which the author has no clue about, but maybe read some "blog post" or "book" on it. The major problem is in the phrases such as "We dont know". I think it is unethical that the author speaks in "We" and not in "I".
Additionally there is a lot of jumping on 1000 different topics which is the illness of 21th centry. Maybe thats why the book is so successfull. People get the impression that they "learned" something.
The book is equivalent of a video with a title "100 interesting facts in 10 minutes". The facts are exagerated, misinformed and sometimes false. But at least they are interesting.
Whatever happened to Neanderthal man? How long did it take a Stone Age man to make a flint spear? Why does religion make people kill each other? Why did Europeans colonise Africa, Asia and America - and not the other way round? Does scientific progress make us rich? Or does money lead to scientific progress? Are we happier than our Stone Age ancestors? Why is Wall Street in Manhattan?
Yuval Noah Harari has a sporting attempt at answering these questions - as well as hundreds of others. Sometimes he gives us facts. More often he gives us opinions.
This book is highly intelligent and compellingly readable. It is guaranteed to improve one's conversation at dinner parties. It provokes speculation and exercises the mind. The author is plainly a gifted writer who has done a massive amount of research. But whilst he might make us more lively companions, he does not necessarily make us better informed. And some of his assertions are questionable - for example with regard to what the Old Testament says and doesn't say.
Overall this book is well worth a read - to date it claims over a million readers including Bill Gates and Barak Obama, so it must be doing something right. But it is not the last word on Homo sapiens. That has yet to be written - and may never be written.
The author takes over a daunting job of explaining the whole biologic and cultural edifice of the human species and succeeds only partially. It may be a pleasant reading for the layman, but for somebody that reads carefully through the lines the logic slips in many arguments. Too many claims that in absence of references could have been offered to the reader as possible or competing theories, instead they are presented as truths. When this is done by a academic person it makes you think if intention is education or indoctrination. The author talks about the economic model and doctrine for a whole chapter restricting and self censoring himself and the reader only to the capitalist model. Sapiens or the humanity was involved for almost a century in a debate if not battle about the best economic model. Capitalism did apparently win, but there are lessons learned and a lot of discussions to be made. Adam Smith has won but Marx was not an incompetent! After mentioning the ever increasing disparity in the distribution of the wealth, the author grants credit only to the excuses and reasons of capitalist entrepreneurs for this disparity!?
I really can't pick if I'd tell people it's a must read or that never to pick up. The ideas are really well written and very simple yet as you read through, you can understand that supporting evidence is used in a way that pushes people to believe in what it says rather than being partial. I can't explain it
I feel that most of these reviews are based on the initial first few chapters which may or may not be backed up with enough evidence. I think realistically we can’t expect Yuval to tell us the unknown, he can only give us an idea from his opinion, which seems obvious, but unfortunately some people insist on complaining. I find the book gets very... boring... just before getting half way through I was very much ready to give up. Everything seemed to be pointlessly stretched and we’re being fed repetitive information which made me want to fall asleep.
This book is not the rigorous scientific explanation of our past that I hoped it would be. Instead, view it as an extended thought piece that's influenced (a little too much in places) by the author's own ideology.
The book utterly collapses during a few chapters. Nevertheless, it does have strong parts and will provoke thoughts and ideas you may not have had before.