Sapiens is a light read. Mixing speculation, science, and history, Harari organizes his theory around breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Interesting ideas and open ended questions would make for a good book club discussion.
3 (of 5) stars - A highly overrated essay-style book on the rise of humanity, full of generic observations and opinions that are not especially compelling.
I had heard so much enthusiasm about this book, and I was disappointed. The word play and informal tone made it easy to follow and engaging. But it was poorly organized: the chapter headings are misleading: he regularly goes out of its scope; more than half of the book is devoted to the last 500 years; about the last tenth of it is devoted to wild speculating about the future whilst trying to use the tone and authority of serious scholarship and the imprimatur of science; the book is largely a cultural criticism of the last 500 years using the resources of cultural anthropological theories - such a wide variety of them that they cannot be coherently deployed (but because these are not explicitly mentioned the reader is oblivious to them and just gets carried away by the story he tells). When Marvin Harris wrote his books (eg., "Kings And Cannibals") laying out his materialist theory of culture, at least was intellectually honest; Harari just picks out whatever he wants from anthropology regardless of the contradictions.
The narration is clear and delivered at an even tempo, and the gentle English accent is nice to listen to.
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