Book Review: “Sapiens”, by Yuval Noah Harari

An essential account of humanity, our origins, and how all that we take for granted came to be the way that it is.

Some non-fiction titles should be required reading. Whether that’s as part of some kind of educational curriculum, or simply as an element of a person’s life-journey towards becoming more informed about things in general. Or just, more interesting to chat with. Certain books come along with such a good insight-to-reading-effort ratio, you almost want to hold everyone you know down, gag them, and make them listen while you read it to them, whether they like it or not.

Sapiens is one such book. Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian and professor, whose combination of thorough, informed academic research, with accessible, contextually relatable writing style, makes this both a goldmine of knowledge, and a damn good story, at the same time.

Really, we are an amazing species with an amazing history. But, it’s a history about which we are often largely and tragically unaware. Which, often causes us to take our present world (and the systems that make up daily life within it) for granted.

From the monotheistic religions that dominate the world today, to the geographic distribution of power across the continents over centuries and millennia, to the very system of money itself, everything has a root and a cause.

Some systems, which we may see as complex and highly evolved, are merely long-term extensions of our primal, mammalian evolutionary origins. Whilst other things – such as the distribution of the world’s religions and how these came to be ubiquitous and all-pervasive today – may simply be the result of blind, right-place-at-the-right-time chance, or completely unrelated circumstances coming to collide at just the right time. In each case, there is always a fascinating backstory that really makes one question everything we think we know.


Essential reading. Simply put; this is one of those rare books I think every person will benefit from reading. Fascinating from beginning to end. Grippingly written (especially for a non-fiction book), accessible, understandable, and paradigm-shifting. I have already begun reading its sequel, Home Deus, and I’m loving it. I will read the third book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, next. Can’t wait.