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, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?
Choosing just five books to recommend is a surprisingly challenging task but one book was at the top of the list all of the way through the process. That book is Sapiens, a truly epic retelling of the story of humanity from its earliest days by Yuval Noah Harari. He weaves a compelling arc of history through three dramatic shifts in the nature of humanity: the cognitive revolution seventy thousand years ago when we gained the ability to speak of things that do not exist, the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago and the scientific revolution only five hundred years ago.
This book is, at its heart, a reframing. It presents another way to look at the progress – and the future – of humanity and challenges the unspoken assumptions that hold the modern world in place. It introduces new ideas and rearranges old ones with masterful language that makes complex ideas feel simple and somehow obvious. It’s hard work because of the sheer scope of the picture it paints, but the writing is fluid, clear and rich: it is a joy to read, and a genuinely important book that I not only recommend but actually request that you read.