Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” as Want to Read:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  201,641 ratings  ·  16,730 reviews
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, tim
Paperback, 443 pages
Published 2014 by Harvill Secker (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sapiens, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ellen Fetu It is cleverly written. Plenty of factual knowledge along with interesting bits about people and history. I can only read so much every week…it is…moreIt is cleverly written. Plenty of factual knowledge along with interesting bits about people and history. I can only read so much every week…it is heavy for the non-academic. I think those who are raving about it are in this field of social and cultural anthropology. It's a huge undertaking on the part of the author and he is clearly competent. I WILL get through it…although have read a few other books on the side to survive! (less)
Jerry It is now available in English via Amazon with title Sapiens. I took his Coursera on line class based on book and was amazed.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a book bound to appear on a large number of coffee tables and favorite lists, and be picked up even by those who normally would not find the time for reading. It will certainly not be the next A Brief History of Time, which is often named as the world's top unfinished popular bestseller.

Both A Brief History of Time and Sapiens share a similar, worthy goal - to explain complex issues in a way which can actually be understood and comprehended by most people
Liad Magen
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had changed my life, the way I think, the way I precept the world.
I think it should be an obligatory book for everyone on this planet.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I believe I am relatively familiar with history in general, and I'm usually not very excited about reading more about it. But this book was something else.
Beautifully written and easy to read, this book just made me want to know more and more about how the author thinks the world evolved to what it is today. Revolution by revolution, religion by religion, conception by conception, things were simplified and yet still maintained valid points - and it was never boring.

The best thing about it was
Emily May
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018
Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don't know what they want?

What a fantastic book. I can see why everyone from Bill Gates to Barack Obama was raving about it. It's an extremely compelling, accessible history - almost like a novelization - of humankind.

I've read a few of these "brief history of the world" books, most notably A History of the World in 100 Objects and Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I liked both, but neither is as engag
This book is a superficial gloss on human history. Nice try but it excludes too much data in favor of an overarching conceptual view to be deeply interesting. Stopped reading for reasons detailed below at p. 304 of 416.

Considering the outlandishness of some of its claims—the downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empire—the book seems weirdly under-sourced. The bibliography is beyond meagre. Don't get me wrong, I like a little informed speculation as much as anyone. Take for exampl
Marc Gerstein
May 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Had I stopped reading after the first section, I’d have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesn’t aloe reviewers to go higher. But I didn’t stop. I kept reading, . . . until it got so bad, I found myself unable to do more than skim, and eventually, to just skipping large chunks.

It starts out as a fascinating discussion of the development and rise of our species, homo sapiens. But starting in the second section on the Agricultural Revolution, Harari shift gears and dr
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It is again unpopular opinion time! It seems it becomes a rule for me not to enjoy a book that everyone seems to love. Well, someone has to. Here we go with the review. Prepare your tomatoes and raw eggs (someone actually threw a raw egg at me once for fun but it bounced from my bum )

Sapiens’ beginning was fantastic. I loved the author’s voice and the information about the early days of the human kind was fascinating. I did not read any non-fiction about the origin of humans so I was excited to
Petra X
The book was too much a basic primer for me, at least to start with, but that's probably because I've read too many books on our origins biologically and culturally. Once the author had us settled into the civilization of cities he waxed romantically (as authors on this subject quite often do) on the life of the hunter gatherer and its perfection. (I've just finished Sebastian Junger's Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and there was more of that.) If it was all so perfect then more of us would ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
History and Sociology for Dummies, this book is almost irrecoverably watered down intellectually. Sapiens does make some interesting points and probably opens a few debates, but it disappointed me. There are lots of soundbites here, especially the oft-quoted one about the agricultural revolution being "history's greatest ripoff", but they remain soundbites because they never really reach a conclusion.

The book starts out alright was the hunter-gatherer civilizations are discussed in some detail
Tanja Berg
Rating 5* out of 5. This is one of those rare books which is superbly written, intelligent and mind-altering. I am convinced by this author's arguments and my view of the human condition has changed permanently.

I thought this would be a book that would delve lavishly in later human evolution, but it is does not. It discusses it briefly and moves on, concentrating its effort on the times of agricultural revolution and forward. It is a masterpiece of anthropology.

"Ever since the Cognitive Revolu
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only parts of this book that really grabbed my attention were the chapters on early humankind, and especially the interaction between Homo Sapiens and other Homo species. The rest of it is a very pedestrian and basic journey through some aspects of human history, with the author making a lot of sweeping assertions and tending towards a rather vague and disembodied explanation of things like culture, money, etc. These sort of general explanations might be good for someone new to the study of ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Choose Your Fictions Carefully

There are far too many fascinating assertions in this book to even mention. But for me the most fascinating is Harari’s idea of the Cognitive Revolution which took place about 70,000 years ago. "We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation. Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals? It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell. But it’s more important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its caus
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?"

Now, that is a mean cliffhanger on page 466!

I am so done with Sapiens, I am willing to enter the realm of posthuman Homo Deus out of spite for my species. During the time it took me to read the "short" history of humankind, written in funny sarcastic prose, painting with broad brush strokes what made us develop into this bizarre population of 7 billion people, I have rated this brick of a b
Jul 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Popüler bilim okuru, genel okur
Shelves: müspet-bilimler
Bu kitabın değindiği konulara değinen Kozmos, Üçüncü Şempanze gibi şahane kitaplar varken bu kitabın bir yılı aşkın süredir en çok satan kitap olmasının altındaki sebebi çözemiyorum.

Başlarda güzel giden (bilimsel ifadeler, kaynak gösterme, objektif anlatım, konu bütünlüğü) kitap giderek subjektifleşmeye ve çizgisini bozmaya başlıyor.

Normatif ifadeler, empirik yöntemler dışında sezgiye dayalı aksiyomlar... Alenen propagandası yapılan Kapitalist söylem de cabası.

Büyük bir heves ve şevkle başladım
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Arun Divakar
This is an excellent book about the history of humans, covering all aspects; evolution, anthropology, geography, psychology, religion, ideologies, and the future of humans. Physically, the book is beautiful; the glossy paper makes it heavy as well. What really makes the book interesting is the unique points of view that the author, Yuval Harari, brings to life.

For example, early in the book, Harari mentions that chimps and sapiens (humans) can only organize in groups of up to 150, without organi
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
"The ability to speak about fictions is the most unique feature of Sapiens language...fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively."
-- Yuval Noah Harari , Sapiens


The writing style reminds me a bit of Bob Wright's The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, or Sagan's Cosmos. It is obviously a book directed at non-academics interested in 'Big History'.

If I
Beginner's guide to sociobiology.
And since I am a complete beginner, perfect for me.

I finished this some six months ago: interesting to see what has remained: gossip, something I hate and rarely indulge in, is an important factor in creating social cohesion, (so perhaps I should revise my attitude to it). True, when you think about it: you and I can only gossip about someone we both know. And it might be important to know who is forming an alliance behind our back. However, as social glue, goss
Ranjeev Dubey
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a decade, a book comes along that has the capacity to radically change the way we think about matters of substance. This book is one of them.

It asks fundamental questions about our evolution as humans and offers counter intuitive, tangential viewpoints. It tests our thinking, provokes new trains of thought.

The book is highly readable and an immense provocation. It must be read, whether or not you are particularly interested in mankind, its history, its evolution or its future. I
Very well read by Derek Perkins, I highly recommend this book to everyone. Whatever your beliefs, you'll find plenty of food for thought in this relatively brief outline of our history from a middling animal to whatever the hell we are now. It's about 15 hours long, but never dragged a bit. I made excuses to listen every minute that I could & even downloaded the ebook to reread sections for clarification & to ponder a bit more at length. I highly recommend this method. (I'm putting this ...more
Simon Clark
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Fantastic. Absolutely sublime. I don't think I've ever read a book with such grand scope, or a book that promises to cover so much and actually delivers. Dealing with the biggest questions about our species - Why are we here? Why are we the way we are? What does our happiness mean? - Harari writes precisely and with shrewd use of metaphor, providing answers that seem intuitively right but leading us to think further than we have before. The links between giant forces that control our world such ...more
Otis Chandler
I haven't read a ton of "history of the world" books, but this was fascinating. Highly recommended. I think the author is incredibly good at explaining and simplifying big concepts. He take on complex things like religion & capitalism and explains them in very simple terms that you likely hadn't thought about before.

The history of religion chapter was very interesting. I hadn't thought about the fact that many early religions were animists or polytheists, or dualists. Nor the fact that they
Ehud Amir
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Brief History of the Right Questions

At the 16th Century, Peter Bruegel the Elder has painted his Landscape with the Fall of Icarus: a farmer works in the field, ships sail by – and at the bottom, at the corner, almost invisible, Icarus falls to the sea. The Icarus Myth is remembered for thousands of years; the farmer in the painting had lived and died in anonymity. Why, therefore, had Bruegel painted such a small and marginal Icarus and such a central farmer?

“A Brief History of Humankind” by Y
Rosie Nguyễn
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Quá quá quá hay.

Lâu lâu lắm rồi mới đọc một quyển sách non - fic xuất sắc như vậy. Có thể gọi là kiểu mẫu của thể loại non - fic khoa học viết cho đại chúng, lập luận chặt chẽ, dẫn chứng phong phú, giả thiết thuyết phục, vừa trí tuệ vừa hài hước, đọc mà hầu như không thể rời mắt được vì quá hấp dẫn.

Harari đưa ra những lời giải thích khá dễ hiểu cho những vấn đề phức tạp, và cho người đọc một cái nhìn toàn cảnh, mới mẻ và sâu sắc đối với lịch sử loài người, cũng như dự đoán về sự phát triển tươ
Dana Ilie
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Nothing new! Everything I read in this book to some extent I learned at the anthropology courses taught by academician Balaceanu-Stolnici.

Harari is a good writer, but one with a very decided agenda. I had to point out how surprisingly little he seems to have read on quite a number of essential topics. It would be fair to say that whenever his facts are broadly correct they are not new, and whenever he tries to strike out on his own he often gets things wrong, sometimes seriously. So we should no
Sapiens was an occasionally interesting but ultimately disappointing read.

Where Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel was a transformative investigation of the origins of civilization, Yuval Harari's Sapiens is a divisive, ideologically driven [Cognitive Revolution = Cultural Determinism] which twists data to fit a pre-existing theory. Back of it all, the entire book, is the final chapter where Harari frets about genetic engineering, cyborgs, and AI [artificial intelligence].

Readers, unless c
Macy_Novels at Night
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Detailed history with a splash of the authors opinion. Like many, I am fascinated with the history of the human race, and enjoy learning as much as I can possibly absorb. This book provides a good timeline of how we came to be, yet attempts to answer questions that we will never have the answers to. The author answers the questions with certainty that he is stating fact, and I found it a little humorous at times. The book took twists and turns that were unexpected, such as discussing the treatme ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
A friend of mine at work recommended I read this during the week – and it is hard not being struck by the odd coincidence of that. Not so much him recommending a book to me, he’s done that before, but this book is very similar to The Patterning Instinct and I only read that a week or so ago. And that’s odd too, since it is years since I’ve read a book on this theme, despite it being a bit of a favourite at one time. So, reading two books on much the same topic, covering lots and lots of the same ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Once in a while I like to challenge myself and read something that wouldn't be my usual genre. Sapiens fits that bill perfectly. I haven't got that much interest in anthropology but I do want to educate myself more in that field and I feel that I learnt a lot from reading it.
Intelligent, very well-written, engaging and definitely thought-provoking. Not everyone will agree with Harari's take on things but I enjoyed it and will read more of his books in the future.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
To be fair: 2.5 stars, solidly in the middle of a "stinking rotten book" and "exceptionally brilliant".

To do as Harari does, I speak only "generally" when I say this is a nice little synopsis of Anthropology One OH One, Physical and Cultural, with a lean towards the Cultural.

In Ancient Days, when I was in First Year Anthro, I had two brilliant tutors -- one in each of the sub-disciplines noted above, who led us in wondrous discussions on all the possibilities of humankind, past present and fut
Objectively this might book might deserve a higher rating. But subjectively it was a disappointment for me. Were my expectations too high? No, that’s not it. It’s the overall style and presentation that didn’t work for me. I flip through my Kindle notes and see things like “weak phrasing”, “not convincing”, “author has a grudge?”, “too easy”, “inaccurate remark” etc. Such things deprived me of reading. You could say the chemistry between me and the text just wasn’t right. Pity!

Creative Commons License
This work is lice
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Correct page count 4 15 Jan 01, 2019 06:22PM  
Books like Sapiens and The Gene, but for other topics. 2 38 Dec 28, 2018 06:44AM  
دورهمی 1 15 Dec 11, 2018 10:46AM  
Grāmatu klubiņš: Cik ilgu liekam lasīšanas termiņu? 6 6 Nov 12, 2018 12:55AM  
  • Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes
  • The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life
  • The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy
  • The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans
  • To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science
  • Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
  • Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins
  • Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy
  • The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge
  • The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science
  • How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
  • Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled On by Hawking Became Loved
  • The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
  • Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived
  • Life's Engines: How Microbes made the Earth Habitable
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention
  • Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
  • Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
Professor Harari was born in Haifa, Israel, to Lebanese parents in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He specialized in World History, medieval history and military history. His current research focuses on macro-historical questions: What is the relation between history and biolo
“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.” 704 likes
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.” 438 likes
More quotes…