Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has been a hot topic of discussion recently. Written by Yuval Noah Harari, the book spans the history of mankind from hunter gatherers in the Stone Age, to advancements in the 21st century, with its main focus being the development of homo sapiens. Reception of the book has been strangely mixed. Scholars with applicable knowledge of the subject have harshly criticized it, while the general public’s reaction has mainly been positive. Christopher Robert Hallpike, a professor of anthropology at McMaster University, reviewed the book and did not find any “serious contribution to knowledge”. However, Bill Gates said that he “would recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun engaging look at early human history”, and that it is one of his top ten favorite books.
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In a Q&A with New Statesman, singer Neil Hannon stated that Sapiens was the last book to change his thinking. “I’ve never gone out of my way to have my mind blown” he said. “I find existence in and of itself pretty bloody weird. But when I picked up this book on a whim in an airport I had no idea how little I understood about humanity; a genuine “scales falling from my eyes” moment.”
Although Sapiens has mixed reviews, it has received an overwhelming amount of praise. It’s a Booklist book of the year, a New York Times bestseller, and one of The Atlantic’s “Best Books We Read”. It’s incredibly deep, as it discusses a wide range of topics from the laws of religion, to the Industrial Revolution. Harari’s writing style is respected by many, and his book is definitely worth a read.
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