The last book I read entirely by my own choice. It was an excellent choice. It is exactly what is claims to be: a short history of humankind. It includes everything from our very beginnings using the earliest dated fossils and tools and gives a vivd picture of how humans evolved alongside and soon above animals.
Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli Anthropologist. The book was originally published in Hebrew in 2014 but his currently being translated into 45+ languages.
It’s not a difficult read as Harari gives you everything you need to know. It’s chronological, informative and poetic. It was written for everyday people like you and me so there’s very little science jargon in it. It’s a bit long at 443 pages but worth every word.
What makes it such an incredible read is that it not simply historical or factual nor is it a time line of how we got from Africa to Wall Street. It is a story of us as an entire species making their way in a terrifying world. It puts forth amazing theories both by experts in other fields and himself. Two of my favorite are his ideas on modern day anxiety and the way we work together by a mutual trust called money.
It is story of our human tradition: how we survived, what we have created, and how our perceived success in the war against our origins has changed us. As our story, it necessarily talks about farming, nation states, money, capitalism, religion, consumerism, and more than I can include here.
His main theories are
- We are violent because we are scared and that fear stems from our sudden jump to the top of the food chain with little idea of the responsibility that comes with such power
- We came to rule the world because we are the only species to ever create mass fictions. Those include but are not limited to the state, money, religion, and corporations. These fiction give us the ability to work together.
There is no lack of science and no lack of beautiful imagery. It is insightful, explanatory, and somewhat calming. Read it if you’re feeling self-reflexive.