Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

Somewhat shamefully, the first thing I did after reading was look at reviews of Sapiens online. Here are some:

“The thing to keep in mind Sapiens is a very reductionist, surface level glance at what is a staggeringly complex topic that absolutely requires all the nuance and context that comes with it. Harari almost entirely ignores that.”

or this or this or this or this….

Here’s my centrist take on a four hundred page encapsulation on the entire history of humans: Sapiens is not meant to be judged as a history book.

Most history books are well-documented, nuanced, but can only capture a single element of human history. Harari takes the inverse approach so we can hear an atomic bomb being dropped on July 1945 on a timescale that spans hundreds of thousands of years.

Sapiens is an opportunity for Harari to be a curator of interesting ideas (often fueled by first principles). Here are a few ideas:

There are many more ideas in this book, using history as a backdrop.

I kind of know nothing about human history. So honestly, all the critical commentary about this book being overly reductionist or having cherry-picked evidence kind of flies over my head. I was left asking questions that I might not otherwise be asking, and I consider that a win.

Some more meat and potatoes here.