A Brief History of Humankind

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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."--
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2015]
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780062316097
Branch Call Number: 599.9 Harari
CB113.H4 H3713 2015
Characteristics: [viii], 443 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), color maps ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and ec... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 24, 2018

Very thought-provoking. Starts so simplistically you almost wonder how it is possible this book will be satisfying. But Prof. Harari starts dropping meaty little questions like bombs, with increasing frequency.

By the time you are done, you are not satisfied, but not because the content was light; rather, because you are left with truly important and uncomfortable questions. I look forward to reading Homo Deus.

Dec 06, 2017

An excellent and very accessible high level discussion of the grand sweep of human progress from an historical perspective, focusing ultimately on some important questions that we should be seeking answers to before we “fall of the cliff” as we accelerate into an uncertain future. Thankfully he pretty much stays within his lane as an objective historian and doesn’t try to make judgments or prescribe solutions. Of course it is not an academic treatise, but for most readers it should be a very stimulating read.

Nov 28, 2017

A very romantic book about the history of humankind, this piece was well planned to be a best-seller. The core of the book is comprised about several notes of defining moments of planet earth and the evolution of our species. Do not expect a highly intellectual, full fact narration; this is history narrated in form of a novel. Digressions and personal thoughts make this book a little tedious to read, it could be more compact and concise with a little more edition. But we know this was totally written for a specific market and audience. However, a good book to know how mass media literates our society.

Nov 24, 2017

This is pretty entertaining in all honesty.

From what I understand, Harari cherry picks his data to fit his narrative and thesis. This makes sense, as it seems like an insurmountable task to try and condense the "history of humanity" into one ~500 page book that is comprehensive and free of bias.

However, if you can accept and move past the fact that this book is not a reliable or thorough piece of anthropology, there's quite a bit of value here. Reading this book is like listening to the ramblings of a very smart and erudite guy while he outlines his personal philosophy at the bar; It shouldn't shape how you view the past or how to live your life, but it's entertaining and contains a couple of ideas that are fun to think about.

I would probably not recommend this book to any academics specializing in history and anthropology, because all of the inevitable inaccuracies and generalizations employed will probably bother you a lot more than they bothered me.

Nov 15, 2017

I am inclined to take sides with "mikemarotta", the commentator down here. I think the positive outlook of this book is mistaken or false. We don't really know the past of Mankind, outside the constant wars since millennia. As for the future of Mankind, in 2009 several guests at the talk radio CFun 1410 said that a "New Creation" is coming, and that will be "post-human," "post-industrial" and "post-modern." There are plans for creating a controlled society with a genetically (or otherwise) perfected man. According to Arthur Koestler, who wrote on behalf of the UN in his book "The Ghost In The Machine" (1967) the planned society of the future will be a 2 -tier one (with no individual freedom). Dr. John Coleman in "The Conspirators' Hierarchy" (1992, 1997) writes that the planned society of the future will have no middle class, only rulers and servants. Both Koestler and Coleman tell thereby that the future society will eliminate individual freedoms entirely, therefore it'll be a form of Scientific Dictatorship or Slavery. This is due to flawed human genetic nature, which is of a lone predator and it's outdated already. There are plans, it was said on French Canadian Radio in 2003, with a brief account of a colloquium at Laval University (Quebec) to genetically create the new worker breed (the lower tier of future society), a genetically planned humanoid bio robot. It will be peaceful, highly performing, without a sense of self. So it seems, the future will be a scientifically controlled slavery, with peace and order, unlike we see today's world.

Nov 12, 2017

A little bit slow at the beginning, a little bit obvious, so i skip to part 4: The Scientific Revolution. If you're already informed about human evolution, this may be too "brief" for you. Also 1 week is not too much time to enjoy a book like this one. Still a good reading for beginners!

Oct 25, 2017

Despite (or perhaps indicative of) its runway popularity, it is shallow and facile, drawn from second-hand sources and not well integrated in its presentations.

Harari failed to correctly explain the origin of writing, the origin of counting, the origin of money, and the origin of coinage. They are all tightly bound. In every case, his supporting citations point to other popularizers, rather than validated peer-reviewed academic publications. So, he gets a lot of the details wrong. From those he builds his attractive and erroneous narrative. Finally, like me and other bloggers, he is a synthesizer, collecting and republishing ideas that he likes without actually challenging any of those claims for their want of proof.

One such assertion is that the agricultural revolution was not worth the price. Domestication of wheat brought longer working hours and slavery. It actually brought malnutrition, and set the stage for periodic starvation never known to hunter-gatherers. It is an interesting fact to consider. But Harari just stops there. He does not see strawberries in January. Cutting off our food supply is integral to his thesis, which includes disdain for liberal humanism. Harari advocates for the postmodern anti-industrial revolution.

Oct 23, 2017

Fascinating ruminations on the human condition. This book was recommended to me by my husband's niece in Hyderabad. She is 20 years old and all of her friends are reading it. It would make a great Book Club selection. There is so much to discuss. His take on fiction (religion, democracy, the international economy) may be disturbing for some people.

Oct 07, 2017

A great comprehensive history written in clear and entertaining language and style with lots to think about (homo sapiens semper sciunt destruere naturam), i.e., how we have been destroying our world from the beginning. Well organized, good examples from the past and present.

Sep 21, 2017

Very interesting concepts in this book. It is fairly rare that one book can connect so many disparate concepts into a single narrative. It made me think deeply and reflect, which is totally worth the 400+ pages of it.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Nov 05, 2015

Both scientist and conqueror began by admitting ignorance - they both said 'I don't know what's out there.' They both felt compelled to go out and make new discoveries.

SFPL_ReadersAdvisory Aug 18, 2015

"We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us."


Add Age Suitability

Oct 07, 2017

empbee thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

MPL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top