Book of the Week – Nonfiction: Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

It’s the rare week I have two books so good that I want to walk down the street putting them in readers’ hands. If The Country of Ice Cream Star creates a carefully constructed future, Sapiens offers an eye-opening structure for understanding the evolution of human beings over the past 70,000 years. It marries biology, history and flat-out exciting writing to come up with a new narrative of the human story, as well as some ideas on where we might be going. And it’s a handsomely produced volume filled with color photos, maps and illustrations—a great gift for any reader who enjoys an intellectual thrill ride.

Already an international bestseller, the book has two starred advanced reviews here. Media in the U.S. starts with coverage in the Wall Street Journal, NYT, Washington Post, Smithsonian, The Nation and on NPR’s All Things Considered and On Point.

“Here is a simple reason why Sapiens has risen explosively to the ranks of an international best-seller. 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

“An encyclopedic approach from a well-versed scholar who is concise but eloquent, both skeptical and opinionated, and open enough to entertain competing points of view.…The great debates of history aired out with satisfying vigor.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Writing with wit and verve, Harari, professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attempts to explain how Homo sapiens came to be the dominant species on Earth….Harari argues persuasively that three revolutions explain our current situation. The first, the cognitive revolution, occurred approximately 70,000 years ago and gave us ‘fictive’ language, enabling humans to share social constructs as well as a powerful ‘imagined reality’ that led to complex social systems. The second, the agricultural revolution, occurred around 12,000 years ago and allowed us to settle into permanent communities. The third, the scientific revolution, began around 500 years ago and allowed us to better understand and control our world.”
— Publishers Weekly

“This title is one of the exceptional works of nonfiction that is both highly intellectual and compulsively readable… a fascinating, hearty read.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“The sort of book that sweeps the cobwebs out of your brain…. Harari…is an intellectual acrobat whose logical leaps will have you gasping with admiration.”
Sunday Times (London)

“Harari’s account of how we conquered the Earth astonishes with its scope and imagination…. A bravura retelling of the human story…brilliantly clear, witty and erudite.…One of those rare books that lives up to the publisher’s blurb. It really is thrilling and breath-taking; it actually does question our basic narrative of the world.”
The Observer (London)


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (9780062316097) Yuval Noah Harari. $29.99 hardcover. 2/10/15 on sale.

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