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Sapiens cover art

Sapiens

By: Yuval Noah Harari
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
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Editor reviews

Our species has only roamed the Earth for 200,000 years — but in that time, we’ve done more to change the face of the planet than any other creature in existence. In his provocative best-selling work Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari takes listeners on a journey through the history of mankind, from the Stone Age to today. 

Over the course of this un-pausable audiobook, Harari examines how each generation of humanity left its mark on the planet - and how we’re still changing our world as each day passes. 

Audie Award-winning English voice actor Derek Perkins skilfully navigates this thorough, research-driven work, setting the perfect tone for this riveting audiobook with his deep, intellectual delivery.  

To put it simply in the words of one listener: 'Prepare to have your mind blown'.

Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The multi-million copy best seller.

What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?

Yuval Noah Harari challenges everything we know about being human. 

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

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

One of the Guardian's 100 best books of the 21st century.

©2011 Yuval Noah Harari (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Interesting and provocative.... It gives you a sense of how briefly we've been on this Earth." (Barack Obama)

"Jaw-dropping from the first word to the last.... It may be the best book I've ever read." (Chris Evans)

"Sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain.... Radiates power and clarity." (Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Sapiens

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    20,693
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Story
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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.

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323 people found this helpful

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

Very interesting, but be careful!

The author does a great job of engaging his audience and stirring up their emotions, hopes, and fears. However, it feels too long and repetitive at some point but still not in a very bad way. My main criticism of it is that the writing is really trying to force the author's opinions into the reader as solid truths and objective facts, and what he says comes off to me as both nihilistic and sadistic. In some instances, I feel like historical events were twisted (while still remaining true) and reinterpreted to fit the author’s perspective and further his cause. But that’s my own judgment. Still, I’d recommend it as a really interesting and engaging book, but I’d warn the reader not to talk everything being said as factual and objective.

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109 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

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89 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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89 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Simplistic nonsense

I really wanted to like this book but ended up disliking it. There are potentially useful insights buried deep in here, which are sufficient to justify an essay, but not a book. The generalisations, paragraphs of silly explanations, interspersed with politically loaded nonsense and assertions about human history without substantiation, make the listening experience tiresome, and have a way of making one doubt the whole narrative's honesty.

I gave up, when to explain how money came about, after explaining money is portable, it was explained to me that a farmer had a problem if he wanted to move house as he couldn't take his house and paddy fields with him, that he could exchange them for tons of rice, but even that isn't easily transported. I don't think the tone of the narration helped much either as the narrator seems to have bought into the school teacher ambiance the whole book exudes.

It's as if the author thinks the reader/listener is a school pre-starter, and that he is the educator who's so much more intelligent and experienced. It's patronising beyond belief.

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74 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 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.

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54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Opinion stated as fact.

What would have made Sapiens better?

Many advanced concepts (such as the medical basis of depression) elaborated on by the author - who apparently has no knowledge in this area - with laughable inaccuracy and assumptions. Most of the book is opinions stated as facts.The author's personal view on modern life is clearly quite different to others', yet it is stated as fact.

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46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • VS
  • 11-01-18

Good first 1/3 of book... after that it gets bad

I enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book. After getting two sided and equal accounting of the possible history of man, it seems the writer lost his neutrality.

Harry Potter is not a good example of what happens to humans. The use of Harry Potter as a good example of what happens when people find their skills and hone them is what set my alarm bells ringing.

At this point, sadly I found the quality of the information sources and neutrality of the discussion went downhill. A simple example is that while stating that you can't measure the success of the human race by the number of offspring, as quality of life is probably adversely affected, the author does not see fit to do the same for women who are, in this book, clearly measured by the standard "have they made it in business" yardstick.

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45 people found this helpful

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

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!

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39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Politics masquerading as science

Although the beginning of the book is informative and well thought out, after a while it begins to become more and more political, replacing hard facts with the ideology of the author. At this point I am very disappointed with the decision to discard scientific accuracy, and would not recommend this book to anyone.

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29 people found this helpful