17 December 2017

Book Review: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Several people have recommended this book to me, telling me that it is the most amazing book they have read. So after some resistance, and some prodding by my friends and family, I have picked up this book. And I must say, it is indeed an interesting read, but I don't think it is the most amazing book I have ever read.

This book is actually a history book. However, while most history books tell the story of a single topic in a small temporal focus, this book tries (and succeeds in my opinion) to tell the history of humankind from the beginning of time, so to speak. It is very scientific, and so if you have religious beliefs still clinging into your mental closet, then those would probably be dismantled.

See, what I like about Harari is that he could see patterns that no one else could see. Mostly because we are all so blinded and biased by our limited world experience. But if you put everything into context, then you see that the things he say definitely makes sense.

I won't try to summarize the book. But in short, it is a thesis claiming how we have effectively committed genocide against our Neanderthal cousins, and how our species might be on the brink of extinction. If you are religious, then the idea that humans are special definitely will go away. Perhaps that is why some people thought this is the most amazing book. Because deep in their minds they still think that humans are special. That we are unique. That we are somehow created to be here, with a purpose. I could definitely see atheists still thinking that way even though they might not believe in God. They might still think that there is a special purpose why humans are here on earth, why we are at the very top of the food chain.

But once you let go of that idea, then you see the patterns. You see that happiness is just a product of hormonal changes in your brain. And so you slowly see that you might not have a purpose here on earth. So what happens next?

Anyway, I do recommend this book to others. It might shatter your world view. Or not. In any case, it would probably make you think. It definitely did so for me. But nevertheless I won't say this is the most amazing book I have read. It definitely recognizes large patterns, but I am not sure it is worth the hype. Or maybe I just took myself out of the religious trap a while ago that it doesn't shock me anymore.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

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