Seventy thousand years ago, there were at least six different human species on earth. They were insignificant animals, whose ecological impact was less than that of fireflies or jellyfish. Today, there is only one human species left: Us. Homo sapiens. But we rule this planet.
Sapiens, the book, takes us on a breath-taking ride through our entire human history, from its evolutionary roots to the age of capitalism and genetic engineering, to uncover why we are the way we are.
Sapiens focuses on key processes that shaped humankind and the world around it, such as the advent of agriculture, the creation of money, the spread of religion and the rise of the nation state. Unlike other books of its kind, Sapiens takes a multi-disciplinary approach that bridges the gaps between history, biology, philosophy and economics in a way never done before. Furthermore, taking both the macro and the micro view, Sapiens conveys not only what happened and why, but also how it felt for individuals.
Sapiens invites us to not only connect past developments with present concerns, but moreover to question our basic narratives of the world. The book’s conclusions are enlightening and at times provocative. For example:
- We rule the world because we are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.
- Sapiens are ecological serial killers – even with stone-age tools, our ancestors wiped out half the planet’s large terrestrial mammals well before the advent of agriculture.
- The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud – wheat domesticated Sapiens rather than the other way around.
- Money is the most universal and pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised. Money is the only thing everyone trusts.
- Empire is the most successful political system humans have invented, and our present era of anti-imperial sentiment is probably a short-lived aberration.
- Capitalism is a religion rather than just an economic theory – and it is the most successful religion to date.
- The treatment of animals in modern agriculture may turn out to be the worst crime in history.
- Individualism was fostered by states and markets as a way of breaking up families and communities.
- We are far more powerful than our ancestors, but we aren’t much happier.
- Sapiens will soon disappear. With the help of novel technologies, within a few centuries or even decades, Sapiens will upgrade themselves into completely different beings, enjoying godlike qualities and abilities. History began when humans invented gods – and will end when humans become gods.
“Here is a simple reason why Sapiens has risen explosively to the ranks of an international best-seller. It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it!” – Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel