Nothing is flawless, but Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and its companion Homo Deus, come close. This review focuses on both books, or dare I say, masterpieces.
Sapiens immediately draws the reader in and sets a swift but not brutal pace. Harari jumps from adventure to adventure, and the intrigue never relents. Though it has no traditional fictional plot, the reader is always left craving more of the beautiful language Sapiens uses to bring the history of our species – and those human species who did not make it to the modern era – into vivid color.
Sapiens is the story of humanity. It’s the no-holds-barred tale of where we’ve come from, just as Homo Deus is a exhilarating glance into where we’re going. In both works, Harari invites us to reflect upon ourselves, the creeds we’ve bought into, the future we’re creating, our responsibilities not only to our kind but also to the world we inhabit, and our place in the history of living beings. Both hold up a looking glass and demand we take a good, long look, all the while warning us of our cosmic insignificance and the immense danger we pose to ourselves.
Sapiens and Homo Deus guide us through the revolutions of the past and those of the future, painting a startling picture of the human animal as a whole. Both judge us rather harshly, but still fairly, I believe. Both serve to remind us of our brief, violent past, and speak of our uncertain future.
Read this duo to see the tapestry humanity is still hard at its loom weaving in full technicolor. Read it for hindsight, and for foresight. Read it because it is artful; no matter the reason, read it – you won’t regret it.