Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” as Want to Read:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  385,547 ratings  ·  27,918 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,
Paperback, 498 pages
Published 2014 by Harvill Secker (first published 2011)
More Details... Edit Details
Featured Notes & Highlights

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sapiens, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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 weekit is…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.…moreIt is now available in English via Amazon with title Sapiens. I took his Coursera on line class based on book and was amazed. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  385,547 ratings  ·  27,918 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
This book is a superficial gloss on human history. Nice try but it excludes too much data 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 claimsthe downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empirethe 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 for example
Emily May
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018
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
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.
Marc Gerstein
May 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Had I stopped reading after the first section, Id have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesnt aloe reviewers to go higher. But I didnt 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 drops
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 authors 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
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
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 ...more
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 Hararis 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 its more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nonfiction
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 were 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 The Ultra Vegan
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 mans 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, its something Sapiens have always done. When we
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
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Petrik by: Captain America
Shelves: owned-ebooks
Chris Evans highly recommended this book. When Captain America says so, you listen.

Its 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 dont read non-fiction, not only I found the majority of them to be boring, the main reason behind why I read is
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

- 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
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
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who dont 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
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Arun Divakar
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
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
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. It would be fair to say that whenever his facts are broadly correct they are not new, and whenever he tries to strike out on his own he often gets things wrong, sometimes seriously. So we should
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of Otis and Abby's top reads.
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
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,
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, hes done that before, but this book is very similar to The Patterning Instinct and I only read that a week or so ago. And thats odd too, since it is years since Ive 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
Very well read by Derek Perkins, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Whatever your beliefs, you'll find plenty of food for thought in this relatively brief outline of our history from a middling animal to whatever the hell we are now. It's about 15 hours long, but never dragged a bit. I made excuses to listen every minute that I could & even downloaded the ebook to reread sections for clarification & to ponder a bit more at length. I highly recommend this method. (I'm putting this ...more
Otis Chandler
I haven't read a ton of "history of the world" books, but this was fascinating. Highly recommended. I think the author is incredibly good at explaining and simplifying big concepts. He take on complex things like religion & capitalism and explains them in very simple terms that you likely hadn't thought about before.

The history of religion chapter was very interesting. I hadn't thought about the fact that many early religions were animists or polytheists, or dualists. Nor the fact that they
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
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. Towards the mid-section you can also find a useful guide on how to train your hummingbird.

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 one that it actually takes is completely different. Too bad!

I found the brief portion about history in relation to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Quarantine Li...: Have you guys read Sapiens? What do you think of it? 7 15 Apr 01, 2020 02:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • Outliers: The Story of Success
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
  • A Brief History of Time
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
  • Man's Search for Meaning
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
  • 1984
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  • The Selfish Gene
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
  • The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
  • A People's History of the United States
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

Well, here we all are, sheltering in place, buying canned beans, and generally trying to figure out how to stay inside and keep our minds busy....
81 likes · 55 comments
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.” 1020 likes
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.” 630 likes
More quotes…