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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  817,759 ratings  ·  46,486 reviews
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, tim
Paperback, 512 pages
Published 2015 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2011)
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Ellen Fetu It is cleverly written. Plenty of factual knowledge along with interesting bits about people and history. I can only read so much every week…it is hea…moreIt is cleverly written. Plenty of factual knowledge along with interesting bits about people and history. I can only read so much every week…it is heavy for the non-academic. I think those who are raving about it are in this field of social and cultural anthropology. It's a huge undertaking on the part of the author and he is clearly competent. I WILL get through it…although have read a few other books on the side to survive! (less)
Jerry It is now available in English via Amazon with title Sapiens. I took his Coursera on line class based on book and was amazed.

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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book bound to appear on a large number of coffee tables and favorite lists, and be picked up even by those who normally would not find the time for reading. It will certainly not be the next A Brief History of Time, which is often named as the world's top unfinished popular bestseller.

Both A Brief History of Time and Sapiens share a similar, worthy goal - to explain complex issues in a way which can actually be understood and comprehended by most people
This book is a superficial gloss on human history. Nice try but it excludes too much subject matter in favor of an overarching conceptual view to be deeply interesting. Stopped reading for reasons detailed below at p. 304 of 416.

Considering the outlandishness of some of its claims—the downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empire—the book seems weirdly under-sourced. The bibliography is beyond meagre. Don't get me wrong, I like a little informed speculation as much as anyone. Take
I see many people complaining about the wild leaps of logic and the lack of footnotes - but honestly, what did you expect in a 500 page book, not even with small print, that's supposed to give you a summary of all history from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present day? Personally, I thought the basic idea was terrific: the author has taken it upon himself to defend the Book of Genesis and show you that it's all true. I have seen creationists attempt the same thing and fail miserably, with ...more
Emily May
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want?

What a fantastic book. I can see why everyone from Bill Gates to Barack Obama was raving about it. It's an extremely compelling, accessible history - almost like a novelization - of humankind.

I've read a few of these "brief history of the world" books, most notably A History of the World in 100 Objects and Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I liked both, but neither is as eng
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It is again unpopular opinion time! It seems it becomes a rule for me not to enjoy a book that everyone seems to love. Well, someone has to. Here we go with the review. Prepare your tomatoes and raw eggs (someone actually threw a raw egg at me once for fun but it bounced from my bum )

Sapiens’ beginning was fantastic. I loved the author’s voice and the information about the early days of the human kind was fascinating. I did not read any non-fiction about the origin of humans so I was excited to
Marc Gerstein
May 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Had I stopped reading after the first section, I’d have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesn’t aloe reviewers to go higher. But I didn’t stop. I kept reading, . . . until it got so bad, I found myself unable to do more than skim, and eventually, to just skipping large chunks.

It starts out as a fascinating discussion of the development and rise of our species, homo sapiens. But starting in the second section on the Agricultural Revolution, Harari shift gears and dr
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I believe I am relatively familiar with history in general, and I'm usually not very excited about reading more about it. But this book was something else.
Beautifully written and easy to read, this book just made me want to know more and more about how the author thinks the world evolved to what it is today. Revolution by revolution, religion by religion, conception by conception, things were simplified and yet still maintained valid points - and it was never boring.

The best thing about it was
Liad Magen
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had changed my life, the way I think, the way I precept the world.
I think it should be an obligatory book for everyone on this planet.
Michael Finocchiaro
History and Sociology for Dummies, this book is almost irrecoverably watered down intellectually. [and for all those commenters that think I am calling them dummies, I am simply referring to the popular XXX For Dummies books and I am not intentionally insulting folks that enjoyed the book.] Sapiens does make some interesting points and probably opens a few debates, but it disappointed me. There are lots of soundbites here, especially the oft-quoted one about the agricultural revolution being "hi ...more
Tharindu Dissanayake
"what looks inevitable in hindsight was far from obvious at the time."

"Presumably, everyone reading this book is a Homo sapiens - the species sapiens (wise) of the genus Homo (man)."

We 'sapiens' have diverse tastes when it comes to everything, so same goes for reading, and there are oh-so many options: many sub-genre's of fiction and non-fiction. We usually pick the one we enjoy the most - and that's fiction most of the time - and stick with it for good. But every now and then, there is that boo
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Choose Your Fictions Carefully

There are far too many fascinating assertions in this book to even mention. But for me the most fascinating is Harari’s idea of the Cognitive Revolution which took place about 70,000 years ago. "We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation. Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals? It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell. But it’s more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its caus
Petra: all work & no play makes you poor.On hiatus
The book was too much a basic primer for me, at least to start with, but that's probably because I've read too many books on our origins biologically and culturally. Once the author had us settled into the civilization of cities he waxed romantically (as authors on this subject quite often do) on the life of the hunter gatherer and its perfection. (I've just finished Sebastian Junger's Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and there was more of that.) If it was all so perfect then more of us would ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
”Despite the astonishing things that humans are capable of doing, we remain unsure of our goals and we seem to be as discontented as ever. We have advanced from canoes to galleys to steamships to space shuttles – but nobody knows where we’re going. We are more powerful than ever before, but have very little idea what to do with all that power. Worse still, humans seem to be more irresponsible than ever. Self-made gods with only the laws of physics to keep us company, we are accountable to no one ...more
Sean Barrs
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a hugely ambitious book; it takes a very broad approach, condensing huge topics into short chapters in an attempt to provide a basis for the development of our entire species. The parts I found most interesting were regarding ecology and man’s interaction with the ecosystem.

Human history is that of ecological disaster. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we fuck up the ecosystem and leave our mark of destruction. This is not a new phenomenon, it’s something Sapiens have always done. When we
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is simply outstanding, and I can indubitably say that this is the best non-fiction book I read this year.

- This book discusses the whole of Human History. These are some interesting excerpts from it - “Not all people get the same chance to cultivate and refine their abilities, whether or not they have such an opportunity will usually depend on their place within their societies remained hierarchy.

- Harry Potter is a good example. Removed from his distinguished family and brought u
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only parts of this book that really grabbed my attention were the chapters on early humankind, and especially the interaction between Homo Sapiens and other Homo species. The rest of it is a very pedestrian and basic journey through some aspects of human history, with the author making a lot of sweeping assertions and tending towards a rather vague and disembodied explanation of things like culture, money, etc. These sort of general explanations might be good for someone new to the study of ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chris Evans highly recommended this book. When Captain America says so, you listen.

It’s been almost three years since I joined Goodreads and this is literally the second non-fiction book I finished reading. The last time I read a non-fiction book was in December 2016, it was an autobiography titled In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park. Anyone who knows my reading taste should know that I don’t read non-fiction, not only I found the majority of them to be boring, the main reason behind why I read is e

- Pssst! Eve!

- Who's there?

- A friend.

- What kind of friend? Come on out, don't be shy.

- I'm not Shai-

- You are.

- I'm not. Who told you that?

- I just figured it out myself. Oh, there you are. What are you doing curled round that branch?

- Waiting for a chance to talk to you, Eve. So tell me, where are you going today?

- I'm gathering. See, Adam and me are hunter-gatherers and we take turns. Today he's hunting and I'm gathering. He's going to catch a rabbit, and I'm going to find mushrooms and wil
Ahmad Sharabiani
קיצור תולדות האנושות = Ḳitsur Toldot ha-Enoshut = Sapiens : A Brief Bistory of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book by Yuval Noah Harari first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011, and in English in 2014.

The book surveys the history of humankind from the evolution of archaic human species in the Stone Age up to the twenty-first century, focusing on Homo sapiens. The account is situated within a framework provided by the natural sciences, particularly evol
Tanja Berg
Rating 5* out of 5. This is one of those rare books which is superbly written, intelligent and mind-altering. I am convinced by this author's arguments and my view of the human condition has changed permanently.

I thought this would be a book that would delve lavishly in later human evolution, but it is does not. It discusses it briefly and moves on, concentrating its effort on the times of agricultural revolution and forward. It is a masterpiece of anthropology.

"Ever since the Cognitive Revolu
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?"

Now, that is a mean cliffhanger on page 466!

I am so done with Sapiens, I am willing to enter the realm of posthuman Homo Deus out of spite for my species. During the time it took me to read the "short" history of humankind, written in funny sarcastic prose, painting with broad brush strokes what made us develop into this bizarre population of 7 billion people, I have rated this brick of a
David Rubenstein
This is an excellent book about the history of humans, covering all aspects; evolution, anthropology, geography, psychology, religion, ideologies, and the future of humans. Physically, the book is beautiful; the glossy paper makes it heavy as well. What really makes the book interesting is the unique points of view that the author, Yuval Harari, brings to life.

For example, early in the book, Harari mentions that chimps and sapiens (humans) can only organize in groups of up to 150, without organi
Simon Clark
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fantastic. Absolutely sublime. I don't think I've ever read a book with such grand scope, or a book that promises to cover so much and actually delivers. Dealing with the biggest questions about our species - Why are we here? Why are we the way we are? What does our happiness mean? - Harari writes precisely and with shrewd use of metaphor, providing answers that seem intuitively right but leading us to think further than we have before. The links between giant forces that control our world such ...more
Dana Ilie
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Nothing new! Everything I read in this book to some extent I learned at the anthropology courses taught by academician Balaceanu-Stolnici.

Harari is a good writer, but one with a very decided agenda. I had to point out how surprisingly little he seems to have read on quite a number of essential topics.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
A friend of mine at work recommended I read this during the week – and it is hard not being struck by the odd coincidence of that. Not so much him recommending a book to me, he’s done that before, but this book is very similar to The Patterning Instinct and I only read that a week or so ago. And that’s odd too, since it is years since I’ve read a book on this theme, despite it being a bit of a favourite at one time. So, reading two books on much the same topic, covering lots and lots of the same ...more
Tom LA
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
In this book, professor Harari crammed EVERYTHING. Or, to be precise, a bit of everything with astounding randomness.

The book's initial chapters are its strongest feature. They also mislead you into thinking that the book is going in a certain direction (anthropology and evolution), while the direction that it actually takes is a completely different one. Too bad.

I found the brief portion about history in relation to happiness interesting, or at least original, because I had never heard that pe
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
"The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language...fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively."
-- Yuval Noah Harari , Sapiens


The writing style reminds me a bit of Bob Wright's The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, or Sagan's Cosmos. It is obviously a book directed at non-academics interested in 'Big History'.

If I
Beginner's guide to sociobiology.
And since I am a complete beginner, perfect for me.

I finished this some six months ago: interesting to see what has remained: gossip, something I hate and rarely indulge in, is an important factor in creating social cohesion, (so perhaps I should revise my attitude to it). True, when you think about it: you and I can only gossip about someone we both know. And it might be important to know who is forming an alliance behind our back. However, as social glue, goss
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is like I have just completed reading a very nice biography (so far...) of homosapiens, of we human beings... Indeed a good & interesting read! A lot of work and research has gone into this book. Thanks Yuval for all the hard work, and hoping, as you already have the systems and research cycle in place, that you will bring out like an annexure to this book, every few years.

Maybe, this book should be listed under "biography"?
Ranjeev Dubey
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a decade, a book comes along that has the capacity to radically change the way we think about matters of substance. This book is one of them.

It asks fundamental questions about our evolution as humans and offers counter intuitive, tangential viewpoints. It tests our thinking, provokes new trains of thought.

The book is highly readable and an immense provocation. It must be read, whether or not you are particularly interested in mankind, its history, its evolution or its future. I
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Professor Harari was born in Haifa, Israel, to Lebanese parents in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He specialized in World History, medieval history and military history. His current research focuses on macro-historical questions: What is the relation between history and biolo

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