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Summary

Opening up a controversial topic with spirit and thoroughness, Sapiens will challenge your preconceptions, provoke discussion and, most importantly, push you to think for yourself.

The Sunday Times best seller.

Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us.

We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us sapiens?

In this bold and provocative audiobook, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here, and where we're going.

Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind's extraordinary history from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world.

©2011 Yuval Noah Harari (P)2015 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it!" (Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel)
" Sapiens is the sort of book that sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain. Its author, Yuval Noah Harari, is a young Israeli academic and an intellectual acrobat whose logical leaps have you gasping with admiration... Harari's writing radiates power and clarity, making the world strange and new." ( The Sunday Times)
"I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who's interested in the history and future of our species." (Bill Gates)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking but overconfident

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and found many ideas expressed in it quite thought provoking and insightful. In particular, the idea that the apparent drive of our species to form common narratives, stories, concepts, narratives, may have evolved because it facilitates spontaneous, loosely organized but highly effective cooperation among large numbers of individuals was interesting and very compellingly argued.
Nevertheless, the author does have a tendency to present his ideas not so much as interesting ideas that might be true, but as facts. His style is very engaging and persuasive, so you often don't even notice the hidden questionable assumptions, or the fact that, in his wide, sweeping arguments, the author often roams through several disciplines that he can't possibly all be expert in.
Overall a very enjoyable intellectual journey, but to be enjoyed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

86 of 88 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Scares the hell out of me

Sapiens is easily one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. It has caused me to doubt the our whole human endeavour while at the same time made me want to be a better person. loved it.

57 of 63 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking but light on facts, heavy on opinions

Worth a listen as a discussion starter. But I would have preferred more research to balance the authors interpretations and opinions
Recommended.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not as Good as it thinks it is

it is very thought provoking and interesting but has problems with repetition and sweeping statements. Some of the description is exquisite but it does drag in places. Overall it is worth the listen but not the exhalation that some are lauding on it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More Manifesto than History

I gave it four stars because I quite liked the things that he was saying, and I agreed with his view of the way the Sapiens species has inflicted itself on the world. But if you are expecting a 'proper' history book- devoid of opinion, and trying to tell things as they happened, but without bias, then this is definitely not for you.
It's an editorial rather than a report.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Craig
  • Worsley, United Kingdom
  • 08-07-15

Brilliant!

What did you like most about Sapiens?

Engaging narrative and the themes were spun together very imaginatively.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sapiens?

The narrator brought the whole to life (for me the quality of narrator makes or breaks the audiobook....i have returned 3 previously that I am sure are great reads but are murdered by a poor narrator)

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

Engaging, never aggravating...no mean trick!

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Smartest of Sapiens

One of the smartest books I've read so far. From pithecus to politics, from shekels to shackles, hunting and gathering to happiness and genocide, this book ingeniously chronicles the history of us.

I have read a few books on this subject including Diamonds "The third chimpanzee" and this is by far my favourite of them all.

Narration was perfect. Pacing was perfect. The stories and sidebars drew me in every time. I can't recommended this book enough. Definitely in my top three books

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well balanced and original

A fascinating read about the human story to date. I really enjoyed the way Harari takes ideas back to basic principles and then applies reason on top. He is clearly a man who thinks for himself so there is a lot of original ideas contained within the book. He also doesn't take too many liberties where stating what we do and don't know about human history which is always refreshing. To top it all off it is a great performance by the narrator.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Started off strong, but the ending was weak

I thought the ending was a lot more 'own interpretation of current data'. The beginning was very strong and intriguing!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Nice opening but completely became something else in the second half.

It started off as an exciting journey into our origins. Then, began analysing and questioning everything we modern humans believe in. Even ideas that we hold very dear like human rights. It was refreshing and great so far and I was already recommending the book to people around me. Then, I began noticing how he criticises some ideas more harshly whilst being gentle to American ideologies. Then, he claimed believing in a religion, believing companies and governments exist and believing in human rights are the exact same thing. Then, he was asking what would happen if we stopped believing in these. I don't know how he answered that. If you want to hear more of it go on. I'm just happy to have tried Audible's perfectly working return policy.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Bradley Janse van Rensburg
  • 13-06-17

Life changing book

It's hard to clearly articulate how profoundly this book (and it's sequel, Homo Deus) has changed my life. I have a much firmer understanding of the history of our species, the origins of our religions and our belief systems, and our possible futures. Anyone who wants to think deeply about life's important questions and be involved in our destiny should read or listen to this book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Shyam
  • 13-06-17

Brilliant Macrohistory

A sweeping narrative of the history of mankind. The author perches himself in a vantage that summarises millennia of biological and historical evolution. The concept that everything is a product of human imagination was dealt with convincingly. The enquiry into happiness and the role of biochemistry in the evolution of man was valuable. An objective analysis of various forces that have and are shaping the world.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vivek
  • 07-07-15

A fresh and unique lens to view the world

It has made me re-evaluate almost everything I thought I knew! And it does so in vivid prose, bringing history to life. Highly recommended!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauri
  • 20-03-17

One of the best "histories" around

A must read/listen for anyone with a scientific outlook and interest towards history. This book has an exceptionally objective approach towards mankind and its habits, cultures and beliefs. The approach might even offend some people as the book is for example unapologetically atheist

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ram Anvesh Reddy
  • 14-03-17

A modern masterpiece

This is a modern master piece. Succinct, unbiased, extreme coverage of time and space. Just a marvellous read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Leo Saumure
  • 20-01-16

The subtitle says it all

What did you love best about Sapiens?

I liked that it gave a good foundation of various disciplines when it comes to dealing with humanity: Biology, Sociology, Psychology, History, and even a bit of conjecture.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed the fact that it pretty much covered everything from Darwin's theory of evolution to speculation about where we are heading as a species that can alter our own destiny.

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

Good reader, and able to convey both the finer points as well as the humour of the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane Simpson Page
  • 20-08-15

Mind blowing

Incredible journey into the past and future of human beings. So much fascinating information and insights. I loved it. Wow.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Vetrici Marius PFA RO32536520
  • 23-08-17

A comprehensive book with surprising angles

The book takes you from early development of humankind up to the nowadays scientific breakthrough.

It is full of insights and explains in very simple terms the development of such concepts as money, religion, empiers, science and the linkage between them.

I truly enjoyed this insightful book full of aha moments.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kumoyo
  • 28-07-17

A must read!!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely!! It is extremely well written and narrated. This book summarizes the answers to how we (Sapiens) have arrived at this point in time, ability and culture and goes beyond by asking the questions of where we are headed to, whether by our own devices or through circumstance. I definitely recommend spending a minimum of 15 hours of your time to read every bit of this book, I know I'll be scheduling another 15 to 20 hours for another read (more synoptic) to get into the guts of the matter and read alongside other such works

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sapiens?

There were so many great moments but I'll mention a few:

- The realization that we are probably not as special (when compared to other species) as we might want to believe.
- The realization that while we generally view ourselves as the one and only true humans, there have been other types of humans with their own strengths and quirks
- Our future and the implications of advancements we are making (such as AI, etc)
- A reinforcement of the realization that many things we consciously believe as real are either figments of our imagination or simply our own perspectives based on our beliefs, norms and values as well as the accuracy of our individual & collective apparatus i.e. eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

A solid performance by Derek Perkins. His narration style was perfect for the content and while I reading I thought he was the author (I think it reminded me of Neil degrasse Tyson's narration of his own book, Astrophysics for people in a hurry, where you could tell that he was more than a master of the content in the book)....his delivery was awesome!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was left with many questions with one powerful question being whether the point to life was for the well-being of the individual or for the well-being of the species over time or maybe it's not a zero-sum game but that leads to even more questions than answers

Any additional comments?

Two very minor observations and/or corrections for the author:

- Akhenaten and his adoption of monotheism: I thought the date was more around 1350BC rather than 350BC as narrated in the book (which is rather quite late)

- The insinuation that Ghana (and by extension implying that African states) select dictators as leaders: there is a common misconception that all African states are run by despots. It is true that the systems of government in most African countries are worse than those in Northern and Central Europe (and maybe there is more corruption but I would probably qualify that statement by stating there is more "blantant" corruption in several African states whereas there is more sophisticated corruption in the west and obviously Trump, with his ethical dilemmas, is an exception to this) but many countries like Botswana, Zambia and Ghana have been voting for their leaders in peaceful elections for decades. Unfortunately, the general view presented of Africa is that of the deeply troubled states such as Somalia and Sudan and the success stories are completely ignored. I'm not trying to criticize you (the author) as you are likely just as much a victim of how information about Africa is presented by the media (a mix of fake and real news) but rather that if people like yourself can start to use a different tone and send a different message when talking about Africa, that this could change the attitude of many (including many Africans themselves who are exposed to some of the same fake news) about Africa and its people and facilitate greater cooperation across all sapiens and not just some sapiens.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • redthambo
  • 21-09-15

History meets philosophy

Good thought evoking listening. Many subjects covered but lack of facts makes you wonder how much is subjective.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful