Book Review : Sapiens


This book was on my kindle, along with it’s successor Homo Deus when I brought it on after reading them on Bill Gate’s book recommendation list.  I’ve not read history after I finished my schooling, and haven’t developed any appreciation towards the topic.  My first tryst with books about history is Guns, Germs and Steel – written by Jared Diamond. That explains why Western Civilization is at the forefront and is a classic. It took me quite long to complete it, and I vowed never to pick up another book on history again. But, here I go – staring at Sapiens book.

Last weekend was a marathon reading, I finally completed the book. The author traces last 70,000 of human history and how Sapiens became the only race to sustain on Earth. He treads from Hunter Gatherer era to Agriculture to Empires to all kinds of Wars/ Revolutions. Mere 400 odd pages cannot describe what we went through as a civilization, and he did just touch upon a lot instead of going through the intricate web of politics and socio-economic influences. The last chapters of the book end on a philospophical note of where we are going as a Species, and ends with –

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

Couple of revolutionary ideas he tries to present are – Agriculture is worser than hunting, Money and the whole idea of credit, how powerful myths hold societies together and why capitalism is the real fuel behind today’s world and how it won’t disappear anytime soon. He also talks about our biology and biochemistry. Famously –

Lasting Happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

A closer look at human brain reveals that all the wars and conquests we did – did not keep us really happy.  Every person comes with a set frequency of happiness and oscillates between the two at a given point in time.

I did find the book fascinating, and learnt that this broader perspective is very important. It touches upon how we made other man and other species extinct with recklessness.  Although I don’t quite agree with everything he said-  particularly Agriculture, no harm in reading alternate opinion.

There is one particular thought that stuck with me long after I put the book down.  Scientific Revolution – acknowledging that we do not know enough, and trying to find answers has put Europeans at the fore front. Their inventions made them better than others, which in turn gave them more foothold on the earth. I think the most important statement anyone can make is – ” I don’t know” and then proceed with all the resources and effort to find the answer. The results will be truly astonishing, as history has proved time and again.

Completely recommend for all the beginners. Try reading it in 2 hour stretches, it gives you time to ponder over.

Rating : 4/5



Author: Saraswathi Pulluru

Aham Bhrahmasmi.

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