Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari Book Summary

New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari Book Reviews

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- Great Read5 star

Best book in history

- Decent breakdown,bad research.3 star

A decent read on one views but there are more factual errors than actual facts. There are many things out of context to further his viewpoint on certain matters.

- Some chapters incomplete, otherwise great4 star

Well written. Makes me think. Formatting seems to have truncated some chapters.

- Sapiens5 star

Enlightening and well scribed. Would enjoy a conversation with the author!

- A deeply thought provoking book5 star

What I love about Sapiens is it’s context and perspective it equips you with. I feel as though once you finish this book it will be impossible for you to look at not just humans, but religion, government, money, industry and many others aspects of life in a fundamentally different way.

- Great Start2 star

It started off really interesting and got really political. I’m a very left leaning individual and while I agree with a lot of the statements made by the author, I wanted to read a piece of unbiased factual history of humankind.

- Close to perfect5 star

True to all Humans. Loved his honesty.

- Beautiful5 star

I read this as a moving tale about the history of the human condition. A must read .

- Hogwash2 star

I was drawn in by the apparent research and data-driven conclusions, but was soon disheartened by leaps in logic. I stopped reading the book when the author suggested that disadvantaged black Americans believed themselves to be inferior. I couldn’t read more. I was about 1/4 of the way through the book. Hogwash and drivel. Not worth the read.

- Great book.5 star

Great for anyone who is trying to understand how we got here from an evolutionary perspective. I enjoyed it.

- Great but5 star

There are some part need justification and elaboration. This come off so much personal viewpoint of an author. Even though it make sense

- Too much authors opinion presented as fact2 star

Earlier on I could see that the author was presenting his version and interpretation of the history, as opposed to actually presenting anything new or factual.

- Sapiens addresses some final points5 star

This book helped to better understand, clarify and articulate my view on the (non) existence of a soul, of the precious wonder of our brains. His writing is like a magic mushroom in terms of getting us to think outside the box and with an historical perspective. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

- A must4 star

Want to be literate in the humanities? Want the capsule version of man’s history? Get this book.

- In Two Words, Marvelous, Marvelous5 star

This may be one of the most important books I have ever read. It is not for the closed minded, but a book that makes one understand what being a human paradoxically implies, from the magnificent things our evolved creative brain can do to the very damage that same intellect inflicts upon ourselves and our world.

- Amazing Summary of History5 star

A great recap of the last 70,000 years of human history. Through our story, the author also describes how abstract concepts like money, religion, society, and work have been developed and ingrained into our psyche. I love the author’s writing style and sense of humor. A must read for anyone and everyone.

- Not What the Synopsis Describes1 star

Don’t be fooled by the description of this book. Only the first few pages are historical accounts of the human race. The book rapidly shifts to the author’s perspective on race, sexism, injustices, and ideological positions often absent of facts. By the time you get to the 30% mark in the book, the book is virtually unreadable unless you are expecting a progressive view of humanity as a whole over the last couple hundred years. I return this book for a refund if possible.

- THE history book5 star

Mr. Harari has put together the most insightful and amazing history book. Sapiens takes us from our origins in the African savanna, upsetting what I had been taught and understood, to the present day, explaining what allowed us to get to where we are and become who we are. Mr. Harari clearly shows us that the history of humankind has not been a history of a people, but rather a history of ideas. Sapiens should be mandatory reading for anyone belonging to the human race.

- Superb: A must read.5 star

I am not a vivid reader but got a catch of an imprint of this book at Court Square library in Queens, NY. Like many subway riders, books were my companion in transit. I read it two years back and this review is based on the slightly faded memory. Within the first few pages itself, I found this book so relatable with what we humans are up to and how the things have changed throughout history. And most important how this history can help us prevent future mistakes.

- Sapient5 star

A masterpiece that oscillates between thought provoking and paradigm changer, or even paradigm destroyer. Fundamental reading for the ones seeking to understand what makes us human and why we act the way we do.

- Best non fiction5 star

Best read ever. Entertaining, to the point. Sometimes too quick to draw conclusions, but when you’re going through millions of year of history - you sort of need to!

- Outstanding5 star

Mind opening and mind bending. Makes you think. Great stuff!

- Sensational5 star

One of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. Superb

- Very Eurocentric2 star

Completely and unashamedly ignores the contributions to science made by non-Europeans, such as during the Islamic golden age, the ancient Chinese/Indians, etc. I was also quite shocked by the author’s ignorance of the importance of science and secular knowledge in the Islamic tradition. He conflates divine revelation with secular knowledge, which were both considered separate fields, by early Islamic scholars and in several Prophetic narrations. However, if you want a good overview of European contributions to humanity, I suppose it’s a good book.

- Too preachy at the end3 star

Stick with insightful analysis

- A Great Place To Start5 star

“Sapiens" does an exellent job of serving it’s said purpose: giving an overview of human history. It’s an introduction. It’s a macro-view of how human society came to be what it is today. And some of it is not pretty. Harari definitely has some opinions in this book, but even he admits that there is more to the story. I think the information is, by and large, all presented in the most objective way he could have put it. You can find evidence from this book to support a number of differing opinions and that’s the marker, for me, that this author is not aspousing an ideology. And with that, the great thing about this book is that some particular part might inspire you to dig deeper and formulate your own opinions! We definitely need more books like that. Great read for anyone looking to have their curiosity peaked!

- Piercing and unforgettable - Superb5 star

So know I've listened to another great book from Yuval Noah Harari. I've been a long time philosophy student and Harari could arguably be the Nietzsche of our time. His insights are soul piercing and the argumentation mind numbing. If I would take any ones futuristic prognostications seriously it would be the carefully constructed ideas of Harari. Anyway this was his first book and it was a huge hit for good reason. Harari presents the history of humanity from a unique/fresh/ and sometimes disturbing perspective. One thing for sure his ideas will stimulate your mind on multiple levels and you'll consider yourself fortunate for being exposed to his work. My only criticism is he doesn't narrate his own books. Derek Perkins reads all three of his books for the audiobook versions. He does a good job but he brings a British intellectual elitism to the text that Harari would not. Harari is powerful in intelligence but humble and gentle in his delivery. Point is- no one but the author should read the audio book- just saying. Now it's onto his second book- HOMO DEUS

- Brief History of Homo Sapiens5 star

Wonderful Book, builds the history of humans with the archeological findings and most likely cases on what could have happened and then gives a view of what is the most likely case. Brilliant one. As much as we would like to pretend the humans existed only couple of thousands of years this book takes you to the history too deep that a curious normal person like me can glance through the findings and understand and makes you think.

- 3stars because of gender section3 star

This is a very well-written and easy to read book about complicated aspects of human history. In most cases the author has synthesized good evidence to make insightful conclusions that illuminate important things about human history. But the chapters about sex/gender, women, and the nearly universal history of patriarchy were totally inadequate and unacceptable. First of all, to isolate the issues of the history of half the human race into a few chapters is ridiculous. The details there barely scratch the surface of the depth. The author offers three simple theories why patriarchy has been pervasive, then these chapters conclude essentially in, ‘I’m not sure.’ The only chapters to do so. Even though patriarchy is clearly related to one of the bigger themes of the book: that we humans create myths and imagined orders we enforce in culture. When he deals with racism, or classism, etc., he argues that these are clearly imagined orders, and they reinforce themselves in vicious cycles. And yet, this is not mentioned in the brief discussions of gender, though of course the same vicious cycles of reinforcement are occurring. He looks for biological differences, but then so briefly and inadequately covers them. No real discussion of biology or cultural layers of pregnancy, menstruation, birth control, puberty, labor/birth, breastfeeding, motherhood and fatherhood, the commodification of the female body, not enough about sex and sexuality. These are huge aspects of human history! He should’ve consulted more feminist anthropologists or something to overcome his own myopia. I loved the rest of the book but felt such a huge part was missing. And, as such an authority in the field, bestselling author etc, I feel it was his responsibility to do much better on this issue.

- Amazing book. Simply amazing!5 star

If you want to learn about our story, our customs, our though process while being wildly entertained, this is the book for you.

- Starts out great but....1 star

Book starts out great running through the historical evolution of humans but then begins to get political - was hoping for factual story of history on humans not this guys personal opinion on the matter.

- Great5 star


- Sapient5 star

An excellent and very well written book full of insight. I recommend it to be read by everyone from every Walk of life.... It should be noted that the author’s noticeable avoidance or unexpected absence of any references to “Judaism” and/or “Jewish faith”, especially when the subject demands it, is baffling and inexcusable. One may wonder the reason is Mr. Harari has chosen to be politically correct in protecting his status and reputation at Hebrew University in Jerusalem!

- Sapeins Review5 star

One of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It truly makes you think about the fundamental questions of life and self reflection.

- Sapiens5 star

Unique view of history of Homo Sapiens.

- Everyone should read this book!3 star

One of the best book I have ever read in my life. I could not put it down once I have started. I would really like to thank TED Talk. Otherwise, maybe I would not know about this book. Every line of this book is informative and the way writer put all information together- it’s so pleasure to read. I was totally lost in the book. I bought a hardcover version for my personal library. Planning to buy couple of copies to donate for several community libraries.

- Amazing!5 star

It was a non stop reading! Congratulations to the concise and precise way of teaching world history.

- Interesting and provocative book4 star

Sapiens does a good job of retelling our past. The information on our history as hunter gatherers, the agricultural revolution and Industrial Age was interesting even though some of the authors conclusions might not be met with agreement. The approximations about the future of Homo sapiens is a tad unbelievable but intriguing nonetheless.

- Sapiens5 star

One cannot help but be impressed with the prodigious scholarship which went into this work. As readers we are not only inspired, we are actually uplifted by the consuming of the thoughts presented in "Sapiens".

- This is a great book5 star

Scio quod nescio, if I remember the latin correctly (it's been a while since highschool, sorry), this simple statement, made a similar, lasting impression on me when I first read it like Sapiens by Harari just did. The intellectual step back, the deep breath, the wider picture implied here: That we don't know everything, in fact very little, and should often question the dogmas we are mistaking for knowledge. Humbling and refreshing at the same time. This is an author who "thinks with his own head", and how often, honestly, do we encounter this habit while reading? Sometimes. But not all that often. This is a great book.

- Sapiens - a Review2 star

This book begins as somewhat of a summary or rehashing of previously published books such as Jared Diamond's work. However, it does present creative new perspectives and original points. However, it runs out of gas about half way through and sort of fell apart.

- Mind boggling with extremely scientific and historical facts5 star

This is the 'must' textbook of all intellectual minds has deep concerns of humanities in current & future of surroundings

- Sapiens5 star

To admit ignorance is the beginning of wisdom, so said the Rabbis of.old. In this hugely interesting and thoughtful book, that concept is given a fresh context very rewarding to those willing to consider the questions posed and the challenges uttered to conventional thinking. I am deeply grateful to have lived long enough to read this book.

- Sapiens4 star

Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Mostly well researched and logical conclusions. Thought provoking and asks the reader good questions to consider. Given the scientific approach and logical nature of the book, I was surprised with the casual dismissal of God and Christianity in particular as myths. While in agreement with his contention of the sociological benefits of religion on society, his faith that there isn't a God is quite surprising given the fact that faith is why he calls religion a myth. He provides no prove that his faith in his own faculties are greater than the faith of others in God. You have to have enormous "faith" in your own cognitive ability to believe that. We should continue our scientific advancements and celebrate them. I believe God loves for us to maximize our potential. Ethical regulation will be required at points just as some regulation is required of capitalism. In both instances, less regulation is the side to err on. The book asks what we 'want'. In the end, I believe we are best served both in this world and next in by wanting to be closer to God. He made us in his image and we continue to 'approach' Him with our abilities. It's an exciting time we're in where the human condition, as Mr. Harari points out, is starting to improve across humanity. It's also great to see an increasing awareness of our need to improve our environment and animal rights. Thank you sir for a thought provoking book. Thanks Mr. Gates for recommending it. Brad Walker

- Unconvincing2 star

One of the author"s early points about the idilic life of hunter gatherers versus agrarians is poorly argued. It's layer of subjective anecdotes layered on top of one another instead of a reasoned argument. This is disappointing. I was hoping for a book in the tradition of "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Better editing and tighter logic could have made this a better book. Too bad.

- Wow!5 star

This is a book every member of the human race should read.

- A masterpiece of humanity's history in its most raw form.5 star

A must read for the open minded truth seekers of today. Dr. Ali

- A Path to Understanding5 star

This book has helped me make sense of so many puzzles that have built up in my head. For better or for worse, I now see why things are the way they are, why they aren't the why we think they are, and how they can be in the future. I consider this a masterpiece.

- Overall very good, just too long3 star

Very complete and interesting but could have been cut down by 35% and still achieved the same message and made it more interesting, just too wordy.

- Beats the religion drum too hard1 star

What a remarkable premise! And had the scope of the book been anchored in the thesis of chapter one, the book, I'm convinced, would have remained compelling. However, it doesn't. And on top of losing focus and becoming far to anecdotal, the author begins taking strong, condescending stands against religion and all those who believe in a higher being. I do not recommend this book to anyone with a balanced understanding of life and our purpose.

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Ken Follet - Sapiens5 star

Brilliant book outlining the history of human kind with brief speculation on some of our species potential futures. The author covers all fronts of the human condition- biology, culture, ideology, religion, nationalism et al. A very entertaining and clarifying view of human reality.

Mike Ro Biologist - Pedantry2 star

This telling of our 'alternative history' is rambling and pedantic. It's easy to be swayed by the book's cynicism and criticism which escalates to a frayed crescendo, but in the end, it is neither impressive nor interesting.

B.H. Vrux - Unconventionally revelatory.5 star

An insightful overview of our species; required reading for trying to comprehend what it means to be human.

Joshua2006 - Sapiens5 star

The best book on this subject I have ever read. Couldn't put it away once I stared. Good read.

Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens Comments

About Yuval Noah Harari Wiki

Yuval Noah Harari (Hebrew: יובל נח הררי‎ [juˈval ˈnoaχ haˈʁaʁi]; born 24 February 1976) is an Israeli public intellectual, historian and a professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of the popular science bestsellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018). His writings examine free will, consciousness, intelligence, happiness and suffering. Harari writes about the "cognitive revolution" occurring roughly 70,000 years ago when Homo sapiens supplanted the rival Neanderthals and other species of the genus Homo, developed language skills and struc...

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