[History of Humankind] Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011) book review

I’ve never been one to seek out more knowledge on human’s pre-civilization history. I mean, I know what was taught in my school’s history books – the Mesolithic era, Paleolithic era etc. But I have no idea of anything earlier than those times.

Which is why this book.

Blew. My Mind. Away.

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

1-Sentence Summary. Yuval Noah Harari details out the history of humankind from the start of time till recent years, by also fleshing out why we do the things we do and how our civilization and society’s structure is the way it is (examples like religion, monetary system, politics, hierarchies etc).

Why I Picked it Up. This was a recommended read to me by someone with good taste in books. Hence, I picked it up thinking, “Yeah, why not? It might deepen my knowledge on sociology.” And that, it definitely did, my friends.

Why It’s A Gem

  • UNDERSTANDING THE ORIGINS OF WHY HUMAN CIVILIZATION IS THE WAY IT IS. This is where the value of this book lies. I’ll be honest that unless I have an interest in the subject matter (like specific niche subcultures, phenomenon, or public figures), I usually don’t look forward to picking up history books, for fear that they’re too complicated that I couldn’t visualize the content well enough. But this book was structured in such a way that the storytelling was solid enough to give a good depth of understanding, yet fluid enough that moving between different topics make sense. I was expecting this to be a more difficult read as I was judging by the genre of the book, but pretty much 97% of my reading here just ‘clicks’ so well!
  • THE AUTHOR’S WRY HUMOUR. Reading this book feels like you’re listening to a professional lecture from an academic professor. He’s usually very neutral and factual-based. This is why it caught me off-guard when the author sometimes drop some ironic joke or a random comment about how weird and funny certain parts of history can be. He tells it like it is. I would usually be surprised by his random comments or cerebral jokes, before musing to myself and chuckling privately.
  • PLENTY OF ACCOMPANYING PHOTOS TO TELL THE STORY BETTER. Lo and behold! This is one of the rare books that are pretty generous with accompanying photos! As I’m not very familiar with a lot of the materials, having more visuals side-by-side with the text really helps me to appreciate the information better. If the book is talking about a particular historical artifact, then there will be an image of said artifact for you to refer to. If he’s detailing about a specific ancient species, they’ll include an illustration of the species for better description. This makes the book such a delight to read.

Why It Can Be A Rock

  • THE FIRST 50-PAGES ARE QUITE TECHNICAL. Since I don’t normally read this type of content, I was quite disoriented and lost for the first 50 pages as they immediately jumped straight into this unfamiliar topic of history. If you feel a similar experience, just grit through the first 50 pages and you will find the reading enjoyment comes a lot easier after that and very much worth your time.

015897-yellow-comment-bubble-icon-animals-animal-panda3-sc37 (2)  As A Reading Panda,  I’d Give It :

bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1bamboo_1 (10 out of my 10 bamboos)

This book gets full points from me because it offers lots of additional insights on human civilizations beyond just the normal assumptions. It surprises me delightfully often enough and is still quite easy to follow the narratives of this book. Short story, it is a rare book of this genre that I actually like!

If you’re a curious bunch and wants to understand why things are the way they are in our current human civilization, picking up this read might provide some great and relatable answers for you.

Favourite Quotes   favourite-quotes-01

“As long as my personaly narrative (on the meaning of life) is in line with the narratives of the people around me, I can convince myself that life is meaningful… This is quite a depressing conclusion. Does happiness really depend on self-illusion?” – Yuval Noah Harari

“Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?” – Yuval Noah Harari

“Like the rulers of most of history’s great empires, they could lose battle after battle but still win the war.” – Yuval Noah Harari

“Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in… imagined reality exerts force in the world.” – Yuval Noah Harari

“They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.” – Yuval Noah Harari

“Gossip usually focuses on wrongdoings. Rumour mongers are the original 4th estate journalists who inform society…” – Yuval Noah Harari


Here’s the author holding a skull… which I’ll admit, looks kind of creepy. (Image source: Richard Stanton and Haaretz)



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