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Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,280 ratings  ·  292 reviews
*NOW AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER*

“Witty and entertaining.”—Sarah Knight

“Laugh-out-loud.”—Steve Brusatte

AN EXHILARATING JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOST CREATIVE AND CATASTROPHIC F*CK-UPS OF HUMAN HISTORY


Modern humans have come a long way in the seventy thousand years they’ve walked the earth. Art, science, culture, trade—on the evolutionary food chain, we’re true winners. But it h
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Hanover Square Press (first published July 26th 2018)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,280 ratings  ·  292 reviews


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Lou
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humans is a book you will learn lots of new information from, and not only that but what you do learn is interesting and engaging, albeit a little depressing. To create a contrast between the darkness of most of what we are told, Phillips adds humour which lightens the mood somewhat. The style of writing is eminently readable and flows smoothly from one point to the next without trouble. This is such original non-fiction, and it appears the author has carried out extensive research to find these ...more
F
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
Funny and depressing!
Krista
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
The story of human progress starts with our capacity for thinking and creativity. That's what sets humans apart from other animals – and it's also what leads us to make complete tits of ourselves on a regular basis.

Author Tom Phillips studied Archaeology, Anthropology and the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University and has worked as a journalist, a humour writer, and as the editorial director of BuzzFeed UK. All of these skills and influences are apparent in Humans: A Brief H
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Carolyn
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book told with wit, humour and sarcasm. It chronicles some of the colossal mistakes mankind has made throughout history to the detriment of their environment, their countries, the planet, the atmosphere and now outer space. Incompetent or deranged leaders, blunders in war, exploration, science, government and colonialism are all here. The mistakes made me shudder and cringe. Some had me laughing out loud. I frequently had both reactions at the same time.

What has mankind le
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Andrew
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Take a base of Guns, Germs, And Steel. Add a dash of Sapiens. Top with swearing and a cynical, snarky, funny look at humanity. How we got quite this far is a little amazing.

Is this entertainment - yes. Is there some honest-to-goodness history in here - absolutely. Do the dispiriting examples weave together into a serious lesson about how we learn, build cultures, and communicate - definitely.

So laugh with it. Laugh at it. But it's also real history worth taking a look at.
Sam
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom Phillips has my fucking cynical sadistic heart.. as I repeatedly tell my friends, "god, I hate humanity" which this book clarifies is a true statement. The book charted how history (and the historical figures involved) are fucking flawed as hell and make fucking shit decisions.

But, Tom Phillips is a babe, a funny as hell babe. This book may be my non-fiction pick of the year.
Isabel
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
P. 19- "But while the human brain is remarkable, it is also extremely weird, and prone to going badly wrong at the worst possible moment. We routinely make terrible decisions, believe ridiculous things, ignore evidence that's right in front of our eyes and come up with plans that make absolutely no sense. Our minds are capable of imagining concertos and cities and the theory of relativity into evidence, and yet apparently incapable of deciding which type of crisps we want to buy at the shop whit ...more
WendyB
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, non-fiction
Horrifying and entertaining look at human behavior. It's amazing we've hung around as long as we have w/o destroying ourselves (at the writing of this brief review humans were still alive on Earth, tomorrow may be another story) ;)
Sam
Tom Phillips has a superbly dark and cutting sense of humour that really comes through in this book, the topic of which really needs it as it chronicles how we repeatedly and consistently screw things up even when we're trying not to. Phillips shows that from our earliest days we were able to fail in bigger and better ways than we ever succeeded, a trend that continues to this very day, and something that we clearly have never managed to learn from. This makes one wonder whether it's too late to ...more
Darcia Helle
I loved this book! What could have been a depressing overview of how badly we humans have screwed up instead made me laugh out loud most of the way through.

Tom Phillips writes with a combination of humor, sarcasm, and academic honesty. He's clearly an incredibly smart guy, but he doesn't take himself too seriously, and so we readers get to sit back and enjoy ourselves. Along the way we learn a few things and should probably be horrified by some of it, and yet the tone keeps us from sinking into
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Corin
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Everyone:

You should read this book. It pulls together history, science, politics, pop culture and everything else and ties it all together with the Best. Snark. Ever.

Try to read it where your snorting and snickering and giggling won't disturb others.

You won't be sorry! 😄
Nosemonkey
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely entertaining and deeply depressing in equal measure. Packed with eclectic examples from across human history and the planet of humanity's ongoing propensity to make seriously disastrous mistakes by getting sucked into a whole range of cognitive biases, it reads like a hybrid of Daniel Kahneman, Malcolm Gladwell and Jared Diamond - but with jokes and pop-culture references galore.

The simple message? Don't be like the rest of humanity - learn from history. (Even if that's also incredibl
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Victoria Williamson
LOVED this. It was fab. Loads of facts and history but very humorous too....I listened to this on audible. Nish Kumar narrated, which also helped.
jeremy
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gen-nonfiction
a wry, relentlessly hilarious tour through humanity's follies and fuck-ups, tom phillips's humans mixes history and humor to grand effect. wending his way through politics, science, war, exploration, nature, diplomacy, technology, and more, phillips amply demonstrates that our species continues to manifest new and nearly unbelievable ways to exhibit the depths (or is it heights?) of utter individual and collective stupidity.
whatever our future holds, whatever baffling changes come along in the
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Векослав Стефановски
This is a great companion piece to Sapiens. While Sapiens gives a fundamentally progressive and hopeful version of the history of mankind, this one takes a bleaker (and funnier) take on events.

Starting with an ape that fell from a tree and entered history, it's a comedy of errors and incompetence that shaped the world as we see it today. The book does not take sides, and it has hilarious and harrowing stories of how kings f*cked up, and how elected officials f*ucked it all up, how scientists f*c
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Shabbeer Hassan
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, history, humor
A funny and at times depressing book on the veritable dirty laundry list of all our collective historical fuck-ups! Filled with oodles of embarrassing disasters from politics to science, Tom Phillips presents them all with his trademark wry and cynical puns.

Worth a read when you want to know about our past but don't want to cry about our stupidity!

My Rating - 4.5/5
Hannah
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less a book about the science behind why we do dumb things than a collection of epic humanity fails and how/why they happened. (if you wanted hard science, you should at least read the first chapter because that's where the info is and it's excellent).
I actually felt better about the world after listening to comedian Nish Kumar read this book. As bad as it can feel, humans have been just as stupid and awful throughout our history—and frequently we have been much, much worse. Hilarious, conversa
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Nikhil
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fabulous book on human history. Delight to read and a laugh riot.
LibraryCin
3.75 stars

This is a (somewhat) humourous look at history and errors that humans have made in the realms of agriculture, science, war, international relations, etc.

I quite enjoyed this. I originally expected there to be a lot of environmental stuff, and there was some, but there was much more. Some of the humour is sarcastic, but that’s ok. The funniest was the photo at the very end, after a paragraph of doom, then a paragraph of positive, then a photo (not going to say what it’s of – I don’t wa
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Andrea McDowell
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and packed full of fun facts. Basically it's 280 pages making the point that when straight old white men with too much money trust straight young white men with too much confidence and not enough skill, terrible things happen to the world. And also, that we've shown no capacity from learning from thousands of years of similar mistakes.

(Not all of the men in the book are white, so neo-nazis can chill the fuck out; but it is largely a book about men fucking up because, as the author s
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Sazedul Waheed Nitol
If you are looking for a book that's packed with interesting informations and funny bits of human f*ckups, then you'll enjoy this book. But if you're expecting a deep dive into the collective human psyche of misguided aspirations and stupidity, then you'll be disappointed. I used this book as a light read between two heavy books I've been reading.
Juliet
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good one.
Paul Kearney
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is the story of humanity's great achievements. For we have achieved previously unimaginable feats of great wonder, The internet, Going to the moon, Modern medicine. And we have achieved all this. By trail and error, Cos in the main we catastrophically f*ck things up. And our success in numbers. Means we will carry on f*ucking things up. Safe in the knowledge we can keep multiplying after accidentally wiping out entire civilisations. Right until we accidentally f*ck the planet for good. M ...more
Mike
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So, the latest thing seems to be to get the F-bomb into the title of your new book...The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and this one which is really just a bunch of anecdotes starring people who have f*cked up somewhere in history. Well, there's plenty of people who qualify. Some of the snippets are mildly interesting or amusing but this is a book which is best read a page or so at a time whilst sitting on the john.
JP
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When most of the author carry few ideas and moved forward to write a book. But he looked back how we ripped our world..
Except few example others are Virgin in this book. He carefully researched before writing..
This book based on analogy of the book named Collapse by Jared Diamond and he starts from there and
The journey simply superb!
Very entertaining!!
Superb read!!
A Reader's Heaven
"An exhilarating journey through the most creative and catastrophic f*ck ups in human history, from our very first ancestor falling out of that tree, to the most spectacular fails of the present day.
In the seventy thousand years that modern human beings have walked this earth, we've come a long way. Art, science, culture, trade - on the evolutionary food chain, we're real winners. But, frankly, it's not exactly been plain sailing, and sometimes - just occasionally - we've managed to really, tru
...more
Juliana
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a cheerful way to talk about the end of the world. Suffice to say I loved this book.

Tom Phillips is very sarcastic, and he uses humor to dilute some extremely grim stuff. I agreed with everything he said on politics (which is something uncommon these days) and his views on the world. Every tidbit of history was very well researched, and the entire thing was very educational.

I loved the writing, I loved the puns, I loved the jokes, the asides, the Mr. Brightside reference, and basically ev
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Tasmin
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humans are aweful, but this book is glorious!
4.5/5
Anatl
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
A brilliantly wry account of some of the biggest and dumbest mistakes in the history of mankind. I feel almost guilty for laughing at some of the mistakes that caused so much misery. The book is rife with crazy capricious rulers like the Turkish sultan who forbade coffee drinking, “In a list of ‘moves designed to piss lots of people off’, banning coffee in Turkey probably ranks somewhere alongside banning cheese in France, banning guns in America and … well, banning national stereotyping in Brit ...more
Philippe Gamito
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must confess, I discovered this book by coincidence and the surprise is quite agreeable. Tom Phillips has a rather unusual writing style! He sets out how humans have made poor decisions in the past history (and how this could have changed the chain of events) and how, maybe, human's choices will still be wrong (very wrong) in the future. For those who like history, this book will provide you with another viewpoint than classical-neutral stories about how famous men shaped our world. It address ...more
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“Evolution gets results not by planning ahead, but rather by simply hurling a ridiculously large number of hungry, horny organisms at a dangerous and unforgiving world and seeing who fails least.” 3 likes
“We tend to assume that when something awful happens there must have been some great controlling intelligence behind it. It’s understandable: how could things have gone so wrong, we think, if there wasn’t an evil genius pulling the strings? The downside of this is that we tend to assume that if we can’t immediately spot an evil genius, then we can all chill out a bit because everything will be fine. But history suggests that’s a mistake, and it’s one that we make over and over again. Many of the worst man-made events that ever occurred were not the product of evil geniuses. Instead they were the product of a parade of idiots and lunatics, incoherently flailing their way through events, helped along the way by overconfident people who thought they could control them.” 1 likes
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