Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – It’s What We’re Reading

June 2016

“What We’re Reading” is a feature offering periodic reviews from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read. If you find a book which interests you and it is not in our collection, please feel free to acquire the book through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari.

Sapiens provides a truly thought-provoking “big picture” look at history all the way back to the dawn of our species.

Harari describes three revolutions which brought about dramatic changes to human societies. First is the Cognitive revolution, about 70,000 years ago, which enabled humans to develop speech, which in turn lead to cooperation and the spread of the species around the world. About 11,000 years ago, the Agricultural revolution caused most human groups to settle down and build houses, organizing themselves into ever larger communities and developing governments. The Scientific revolution, beginning a mere 500 years ago, unleashed the powerful forces of imperialism and capitalism and lead to our modern, technology-driven lifestyle.

Together these revolutions have made Sapiens the most successful species ever, but also the most dangerous. Harari argues, in fact, that the average individual today probably has a lower general happiness level than his hunter-gatherer ancestor. Towards the end of the book Harari strays into future prediction, perhaps less successfully. Up to that point, however, the book is so fascinating it is well worth the time to read it.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is available in the Popular Reading section of the Post Learning Commons.