Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – Loy Machedo’s Book Review
I am no historian.
Neither have I had any interest in history.
That is why I was surprised when I decided to go through the audiobook Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I suppose I wanted to venture and try something new for once. More like getting out of my comfort zone.
Trying something new.
Which is why I decided to challenge myself and see if I could digest a book that spoke about a historical perspective on mankind..
So forgive me if any of my analysis of understanding of this book is flawed.
In my limited knowledge & understanding of a subject I haven’t looked upon in 41 years of my life – here is my feeble attempt at reviewing a book & a subject I know nothing about.
SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI – Loy Machedo’s Book Review
Sapiens is a book that takes us through the cognitive, agriculture, industrial, informational and evolutionary transformation of human beings – a journey that covers 2.5 million years in a few 100 pages. The author presents a hypothesis of how the Homosapien migrated from the jungles of Africa many millions of years ago and now they have evolved into being great storytellers, influencers, and creators of kingdoms where all of them huddle together believing in the common stories they share.
According to the author everything from religion to relationship rules to moral codes – all are nothing but stories handed down from one generation to another. Where in the case of animals – if groups of animals would come together – they would just focus on survival – in the case of human beings, if groups of human beings would come together – they would work together towards creating an advantage for themselves to survive, sustain, thrive and conquer other groups. And this he believes – this ability to communicate, network, cooperate & influence is what made human beings superior to other animals. And that has been the reason for the rise of the human stories – stories of religion, stories of trade, stories of capitalism, stories of morality, stories of good & evil and everything else in between.
However, the book is not just a plain historical summary of human beings. Rather the author moves into cautioning us about dark times ahead. Harari suspects that Human beings in their quest for perfection, happiness, pleasure, and greatness will step into the biotechnological revolution. This, in turn, will signal the end of human beings as mortal beings. This, in turn, will give rise to the machines – more like bio-engineered cyborgs who can live forever and whose capacity to think & feel will be based on a logical & stone-cold computerized approach.
The author also feels that the tell-a-tale sign for this coming apocalypse is our current lifestyle – working long hours, the need to buy & store things, the desperation to acquire what is better, faster & stronger and the never-ending lust for money, power & success at any cost.
SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI – DRAWBACKS
Like I stated – I am no historian and I will not pretend to even be categorized as one. So whatever opinion I am stating – is merely based on my assumptions & understanding of what I have read.
I felt Harari’s book Sapiens was more of an anecdotal & opinionated collection of thoughts. Just as he pointed out religions & rules are nothing but stories that get handed down from one generation to the next, his book is also another story he assumes is true.
I personally felt the book was more focused on the rather intriguing subject “Human Beings versus The Quest for Happiness”
Harari’s major concern peppered throughout the book is the ‘god-like’ intent human beings are moving towards. He states the reality of our current existence is where we have more access to food, pleasure, medicine, technology & power. And where the focus is bigger, faster, stronger, better and even more.
So what does lie ahead for us is the big question
SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI – CONCLUSION
I remember watching the talk by Yuval Noah Harari where he asked these thought-provoking questions:
- What makes Homo Sapiens so different from the rest of the animal kingdom
- Why are human beings so dominant?
- What makes our lives so much more important or precious than that of any animal? What gives currency its value other than the story we have told others about the value this piece of colored paper has?
- How would you explain a concept like LLC to a group of chimpanzees?
- How would you explain god to an animal?
Yuval Noah Harari in 20 chapters has managed to share his thoughts, aspirations, fears & concerns for mankind. He constantly drives home the point that the stories that were mutually agreed upon by groups of people is what shaped our civilization – stories from gods, religion, money, rules, values, morals, capitalism, life and everything else. And it is these stories that will continue shaping our future and the future generations. However, the one thing that the author does make clear is that you cannot merely hope for a better future simply by believing in these stories as the future of mankind is totally dependent on the choices human beings make in large numbers. That, in turn, will determine the future of mankind.
As of now the only thing that has been certain is how mankind is obsessed with satisfying their greed & not their need for the what life can provide. If this behavior continues – it will give rise to the new breed of genetically manufactured human beings – half man, half machine and one that will eventually want to live forever. This, however, will result a very dark, demonic & disturbing future. And one that the author is very skeptical about. And with that disturbing prediction, is where the author ends his book. And it is then the reader begins to wonder – so now – what’s next?
That, in turn, is maybe, what I believe the essence of this book.
SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI – MOMENT OF TRUTH
A very detailed, intense & well-researched book that will take tons of patience, self-control & focus to complete. If you are light reader – just watch Yuval Noah Harari’s talks. Because trust me when I say this – you will be able to complete this book otherwise.
SAPIENS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI – OVERALL RATING
8.5 out of 10.
A book that you may hope to read once.
Or listen to completely once.