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Publisher's Summary

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity's creation and evolution - a number one international best seller - that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be "human".

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one - Homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago, with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because, over the last few decades, humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

This provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

©2015 Yuval Noah Harari (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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Life changing

I guess this is what it feels like to have a religious awakening, which is ironic given the contents of the book. The way this book describes humans from such a distant vantage point really forces you to acknowledge the objective reality that we are all just animals, doing strange things, believing even stranger things, for our brief lives.

One example of how this book has changed me: I've taken antidepressants for a long tube, but always felt guilty: like if I just understood myself and my world better, I wouldn't need that crutch. I don't feel that way anymore. Read the book and you'll understand why.

It's a tired analogy, but it's like The Matrix. I'm suddenly aware of these major aspects of my reality that I was just ignoring before... Or, more than ignoring, they just weren't something I could see.

Read this. The narrator is great. The content is great. The writing is great.

71 of 76 people found this review helpful

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Expands upon the book Guns, Germs, and Steel

The first half dove into human history quiet nice and thorough. Once Sapiens are introduced into history, then the writing bounces around history a bunch. I found myself asking why certain parts of history were not mentioned or glossed over while others were intensely focused. Why so much focus on the American Revolution and barely any mention of empires and wars such as WWII? I also was curious why there wasn't any mention of the Israeli Palestinian conflict while other countries conflicts were brought up.
The economic subjects around money and statistics and commerce were fascinating. This gave a great background of today's commerce in historical terms easily understood.
The last few chapters were enlightening in where we are heading and a subject I find myself in conversations with others.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Fun, provocative, but too sweeping and speculative

Loved the amusing new perspectives on history and our future. But sometimes it felt more like a speculative conversation with a smart friend at the bar than a well researched and balanced analysis.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Post-modernist rant, flashes of grounded opinion

I was attracted to the book based on a recommendation, and from an interest in evolutionary psychology. And I actually enjoyed most of Part I, which dealt with loosely accepted origins of the cognitively aware humans we know and live as today. But from there, the book took a disappointing turn. It diverged into an ideological rant against agriculture, Western Civilization (or all civilizations really), the evils of modern technology, and most of all against the "myths"of every belief system in the modern world. While these arguments may be ostensibly in the the vein of a devil's advocate, it quickly became clear that Harari was presenting a fast and loose version of HIS view of history, regardless of the grounding material.

I don't have problem with critiques or examinations of human thought and beliefs, but Harari condemns almost all modern structures of society, without recognizing any of the obvious benefits. It seems that this 1st world writer, in a country with free speech, touting the benefits of science and the age of Enlightenment, believes that we should all go back to gathering nuts and hunting wild game in the pure foraging bands of yore. "Obviously" we were all happier back then, due to the esteemed wisdom of the Great God of Evolution. (also a benefit of modern rational thought, btw).

So, bottom line, I made it six hours in and had to quit. I couldn't listen to any more ungrounded rants against modern life, passed off as established facts about the past. Harari hates where society is at of present, but won't recognize that he is an unqualified benefactor of that society. So while I was hoping for something educational, all I got was postmodern evangelism. So now I'm out $14.95 and looking for an actually informative and truly grounded companion to the Maps of Meaning series that got me interested.

56 of 73 people found this review helpful

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Many interesting things but beware

This book contains many interesting facts and scientific theories and the early section on the evolution of man is quite interesting. What struck me most about the book is that in the early part where the author is most qualified he is very careful to note what is theory and alternate theory but later in the book when is offering his opinion on a number of things (such as how research monies are allocated) he presents his opinions as fact. The first third of the book is well worth the read (or listen) but the last two thirds is simply the author's opinion on a host of things presented as fact. Opposing view points are NOT included or even mentioned. The arrogance of this tends to come thru in spades. Got 80% of the way thru the book and just could not take it anymore. In 15+ years of audible over 360 books this is only the third I have not finished. Read the first third and save your time for something better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A great listen!

This truly is a great work of summarizing the human history, and in explaining our place in the world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Promising beginning

There are a few good points to be taken from this book, mostly that humanity relies on set of intricate stories and fictions in order to survive. The author also mentions several studies that deserve to be explored further (e.g., primates preferring a realistic-looking mother figure rather than a wire frame containing milk), but the book rapidly devolves into a series of grand pronouncements about science, history, and other disciplines without referring to any empirical evidence. Many parts of this book are a chore to get through and feel as though they should be confined to the author’s personal diary. He also fails to convince that hunter-gatherers had it better than we do today, and this is a point he repeats often. The book’s important points could have been set forth in a blog post or a short podcast.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Information about our species like never before

The book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is brimming with information regarding our storied pre-history. Although at some points, it feels as though the author is loosely basing the assumptions made in reality, the overall story is brimming with more information than any other source that I've read. Prepare to view your species differently.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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What a book!!!! I would listen it again

This is a master book. I'm going to buy a paper copy for my library.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • 08-15-17

Mind blowing book

This book will make your mind think differently about... everything. Sapiens is a phenomenal book.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • khanh
  • 01-05-18

simple explanation for complicated things

Where does Sapiens rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is my first audiobook experience. I'm glad that I chose this book. Otherwise, it would take me months to finish.

What did you like best about this story?

So many boring things are explained so interestingly. The examples are from many fields: biology, history, economy, etc.