Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari - review by Ian Morris

Ian Morris

What’s the Story?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


Harvill Secker 443pp £25 order from our bookshop

In March, I spent four days in Israel, talking to archaeologists and historians. ‘You have to read this book by Harari,’ people kept telling me. ‘You’ll love it.’

They were right. Sapiens is a fast-paced, witty and challenging romp through 70,000 years of human history, beautifully translated by the author himself, a young Israeli historian, from the original Hebrew bestseller. It is full of memorable lines and major insights. Even the pictures are perfectly chosen (I particularly liked the pairing of Louis XIV and Barack Obama). I did love it, and if you are interested in the whole story of humankind, I’m confident that you will love it too.

Histories of everything, such as Sapiens, are a recent invention. When 20th-century historians wrote about the big picture, they tended to work almost entirely from written records; because of this, their ‘world’ histories were usually only about small parts of the world during the last few thousand years and focused

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