Review From User :
Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want
What a fantastic book. I can see why everyone from Bill Gates to Barack Obama was raving about it. It's an extremely compelling, accessible history - almost like a novelization - of humankind.
I've read a few of these "brief history of the world" books, most notably A History of the World in 100 Objects and Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I liked both, but neither is as engaging as this book. Also, Harari's book stays vague on the physics, dinosaurs and such, unlike Bryson's work, making this not so much about the whole universe, but specifically about humans. Or, I should clarify, homo sapiens.
Most of all, I like how easy to digest the author makes all this information. I have a lot of respect for authors who can present something complex in simple terms. I've always liked the quote attributed to Einstein "If You Can't Explain it to a Six Year Old, You Don't Understand it Yourself". Anyone with a thesaurus can make something seem more dense and complicated than it is; it's much harder to explain something long and complicated in a way that everyone can enjoy.
And it does read like a really exciting and fascinating novel. Harari takes us through the history of human development and migration, through the Cognitive Revolution (view spoiler)[a sudden increase in cognitive ability around 70,000 years ago, not the 1950s intellectual movement (hide spoiler)] and Agricultural Revolution. He looks at how currency and coinage developed, the creation of religions, the arrival of imperialism and capitalism, and the history of inequalities and injustices.
I especially like how he presents a relatively unbiased view of events. He focuses on what we know, and is quick to say when something remains a mystery to biologists and anthropologists. When there are conflicting theories, he outlines all the main ones. The only agenda Hariri seems driven by is a desire to present the most accurate view of humanity's history.
This book filled me with a sense of wonder. Wonder at how far we've come in just a few millennia; wonder at all the twisting roads of history; wonder at where we could possibly end up. The final chapters of the book take a peek at the future's possibility, making me even more excited (and a little scared) to read Homo Deus.
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