Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
New York Times Bestseller
"I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun, engaging look at early human history…you’ll have a hard time putting it down."--Bill Gates
"Thank God someone finally wrote [this] exact book."--Sebastian Junger
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”
One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?
Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?
Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
government destroyed it the following year. In 1880 the Chinese Empire did not operate a single railroad. The first railroad in Persia was built only in 1888, and it connected Tehran with a Muslim holy site about 6 miles south of the capital. It was constructed and operated by a Belgian company. In 1950, the total railway network of Persia still amounted to a meagre 1,500 miles, in a country seven times the size of Britain.6 The Chinese and Persians did not lack technological inventions such as
observations over past traditions, but the desire to conquer America also obliged Europeans to search for new knowledge at breakneck speed. If they really wanted to control the vast new territories, they had to gather enormous amounts of new data about the geography, climate, flora, fauna, languages, cultures and history of the new continent. Christian Scriptures, old geography books and ancient oral traditions were of little help. Henceforth not only European geographers, but European scholars
cannot conduct independent economic or foreign policies, and they are certainly incapable of initiating and conducting full-scale war on their own. As explained in Chapter 11, we are witnessing the formation of a global empire. Like previous empires, this one, too, enforces peace within its borders. And since its borders cover the entire globe, the World Empire effectively enforces world peace. So, is the modern era one of mindless slaughter, war and oppression, typified by the trenches of World
social order would quickly collapse. For example, King Hammurabi decreed that people are divided into superiors, commoners and slaves. Unlike the beehive class system, this is not a natural division – there is no trace of it in the human genome. If the Babylonians could not keep this ‘truth’ in mind, their society would have ceased to function. Similarly, when Hammurabi passed his DNA to his offspring, it did not encode his ruling that a superior man who killed a commoner woman must pay thirty
themselves. It is difficult to rule an empire in which every little district has its own set of laws, its own form of writing, its own language and its own money. Standardisation was a boon to emperors. A second and equally important reason why empires actively spread a common culture was to gain legitimacy. At least since the days of Cyrus and Qín Shĭ Huángdì, empires have justified their actions – whether road-building or bloodshed – as necessary to spread a superior culture from which the