It’s not fair to write a book review without completing the book but I’ve been known to do it before. It’s not a disservice really. I’m so fascinated by what I am reading in the book that I can’t wait to write down some early thoughts. The disservice is to myself – I have to stop reading, put that wonderful book down so I can jot down my impressions. By the time some of you pick up the book (and I hope you do!), I’ll be finished reading it.
The version of the book that I am reading is a traditional hardcover that was gifted to me by a friend some time back (Thanks S!). I had to get out of my Jack Reacher fog to finally pick it up. After being a kindle reader for a few years now, when I say I have to pick it up, I really mean it. It’s one weighty tome compared to my kindle!
So far, I have been completely fascinated.
The book is Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. The author has a great website that you should also check out here. Please click on the links to find out more – as much as you want to find out – about the book and author. I want to focus on my impressions rather than those facts.
This is a book (an Amazon Best Book for February 2015, by the way) that combines history, anthropology and evolution into a highly readable, engrossing experience. It’s hard to take a break (and that, from a book of non-fiction!). Believe them or not, his theories are extreme and fascinating, some of which I would never have imagined.
To further intrigue you, I have picked out a couple of my favorite excerpts from the book (so far) and a couple of my favorite reviews of the book. Just call me your curator. You’re welcome.
The editorial reviews first; it was hard to pick just these from several available but they should give you a good idea of the quality of the book:
“It is one of the best accounts by a Homo sapiens of the unlikely story of our violent, accomplished species.…It is one hell of a story. And it has seldom been told better…. Compulsively readable and impossibly learned.” (Michael Gerson, Washington Post)
“Yuval Noah Harari’s celebrated Sapiens does for human evolution what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time did for physics.… He does a superb job of outlining our slow emergence and eventual domination of the planet.” (Forbes)
“It’s not often that a book offers readers the possibility to reconsider, well, everything. But that’s what Harari does in this sweeping look at the history of humans.… Readers of every stripe should put this at the top of their reading lists. Thinking has never been so enjoyable.” (Booklist (starred review))
“The sort of book that sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain…. Harari…is an intellectual acrobat whose logical leaps will have you gasping with admiration.” (John Carey, Sunday Times (London))
And now for a couple of excerpts from the early sections of the book about what extraordinary trait made homo sapiens leave all other animals behind thousands of years ago. The connection he makes here is incredible, to say the least:
And finally, to help you decide whether to invest the time and read Sapiens, have a look at these chapters:
How can you not be madly interested and intrigued?
Go. Get your copy and start reading.