A Brief Review Of Sapiens

Being a history geek, I’ve always been interested in studying our ancestral roots and how we evolved from our hunter-gatherer lifestyle to become the superior species of today. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across a book that sought to explore not just our hunting-gathering ancestors but also where it all began and how it all developed to make us the Homo sapiens we are today.

The Evolution of Homo Sapiens

Yuval Noah Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ has explored the history of humankind in a ‘brief’ yet new outlook. From the era of when the first human species came into being, to the evolution of the food chain and its dominant players, to the development of different major revolutions that changed not just our ability to feed but also our ability to choose who deserves to survive the most and the means through which they can do so. Sapiens is a book that doesn’t just study the entire human history in 400 pages, it does so in a way that opens our eyes to look at the age-old phenomena that shaped the world as it is, with an entirely new perspective in mind.

How humankind went from the mid of the food chain to come to dominate it, how this dominance changed the world’s environment; turning us into ‘the enemies to the ecosystem’. How humans went from mere hunter-gatherers to developing a cognitive overview of the world that allowed us to evolve further, to an agricultural revolution that turned our entire approach to hunting and gathering to focus on farming; then came the scientific revolution that didn’t just change our perspective of the world but also set the stage for the industrial revolution; a revolution that transformed the face of the world. Following the industrial revolution was the information revolution, still comparatively new but introducing a revolution that may as well end humankind altogether – the biotechnological revolution.

Social Hierarchies

Harari explains in his book how the male-female role-model or responsibilities developed over hundreds of years and yet still has its basis set in on that which existed during the hunter-gatherer times. How racism became a new normal where it should never have existed in the first place. How the modern capitalistic era is setting the stage for a war that always existed, in different shapes, different sizes, yet waiting to redefine the face of the world all along after every brief period of peace. And how humans on a whole started off as insignificant species yet now dominate the structure of the eco-system.

It’s good in terms of connecting the dots, objective when it comes to accuracy; the biggest criticism the book has received is about how Harari has a misunderstood concept of different religions existing in the world. The book discusses exactly what it promises, a history of humankind. But not just in terms of how we evolved physically like we’ve been made to study our entire lives. It discusses evolution in terms of physicality as much as politics; religion as much as capitalism; the ancient methods of living as much as the scientific and the evolution of the technologically advanced world we’re a part of today.

What’s the takeaway?

At times, you want to never stop reading it, at others, you just sit and ponder over how even after all these centuries of development, we, humans, are still the same hunter-gatherer species that evolved us to this point. And the objective narrative adopted by the author stimulates us to think about the different topics discussed without taking offense or being biased. Sapiens may seem lengthy, complex, and confusing at more times than once, but it’s worth the read.

Maha Abdul Rehman

A content writer and a psychology major, I procrastinate for 6 months or write consecutively. And I occasionally watch (see: obsess about) Football.

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