Book Review: Sapiens by Yuval Harari

Adam Monago
May 7, 2017 · 3 min read

Happy Accidents

Something about homo sapiens allowed us to outlive several other human species that walked the planet at the same time. Harari doesn’t pick a side, although you are left to determine for yourself whether you think this was due to evolution, luck or some intelligent design. The important thing is realizing that mankind did not have to turn out the way it did. In fact, even the word “mankind” is misleading as we are but one branch of mankind.

Slaves to the Grain

Our discovery of farming, specifically of wheat, put mankind on a path away from its hunter-gatherer roots. We began to become stationary people. We grew in numbers and required greater numbers to farm more wheat, to feed more people, and so on. This concept was incredibly powerful for a number of reasons. Not only did we set ourselves on a path away from our original skills, but we became highly dependent upon a food source which was initially more rare to come by, due to its fussy growing behaviors. By nurturing wheat, we effectively became a slave to it.

Hierarchies: Our Favorite Growth Hack

From kingdoms, to religions to politics, homo sapiens have managed to scale the growth of society through the creation of hierarchical tribes. We first learned as a people that we could stay safe in numbers. Then we realized we could amass more food. Ultimately, we realized we could accomplish greater feats of building and conquest as we developed larger tribes. Ultimately we created the concepts of nation and religion to justify our new roles.

From Middle to Top

It’s easy to forget that our ancestors were once in the middle of the food chain: larger than some animals, but ultimately easily killed by larger beasts that roamed the earth. Over time, we would develop the tools and organization to drive those beasts to extinction and ultimately sit where we are today: in command of the global food chain.

Technology Has Accelerated Our Development Like Never Before

Since the industrial revolution, homo sapiens have been accelerating in their understanding and mastery of the world at a speed which had never been known. We now have the ability to create life, organically and inorganically. This suggests that we are likely very close to breakthroughs that will change the future development of humans.

Oiriginal photo by Nathan Anderson, Frisco https://unsplash.com/@nathananderson

Read for Yourself

I love controversial titles, and this was no exception. As you can probably infer, there are a number of arguments contained in the book that can rankle those of different political or religious persuasions. Overall, I felt that it was a mind-opening book that provided an updated history of civilization while dipping into futurism to suggest where we might as a species be going.


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Digital Marketing and Strategy Executive. Passionate about #digitalstrategy, #analytics, #contentstrategy and #design. Blog at www.adammonago.com

The Adam Monago Collection

Things I Was Thinking About At One Point Or Another.