Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sapiens, by Yuval Harari

Sub-titled, "a brief history of humankind," Sapiens is a macro level view of the origin of our species. It is one of the more interesting of such books that I've read because Professor Harari has a great writing style and keeps things on pace. He does have a transparently cynical nature though, which comes through repeatedly. The general tone is, with all our cognitive ability and technological ability to harness materials in innovative ways, humans are trending towards destroying the earth rather than towards improving the planet.

Even the agricultural revolution, which you might think of as a positive because it increased the amount of available food, had the cost of population explosions (with resultant health disasters due to poor hygiene and overcrowding) and the formation of a class system ("pampered elites") thus leading to an oppressive society rather than the egalitarian one of nomadic subsistence.

I've made is sound as though Professor Harari beats one over the head with a hammer with this sort of stuff and that is not the case; he uses a small and painless mallet for these occasional comments. But at the end I found that he'd made quite the case. Not that I'm eager to collect nuts and berries, but from a planetary macro perspective, he may well be right.

In my view it is worth reading.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

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