Author: Yuval Noah Harari

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Nonfiction Review: Homo Deus

February 15, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

Nonfiction Review: Homo DeusTitle: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Source: from publisher for review
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This book went off on some tangents and made some unconvincing claims, but it was engaging and made me think about the world in new ways.

There was a lot to like about this book and also some aspects that bothered me quite a bit. For one, it’s supposed to be about what humanity’s next challenges will be. Now that we (mostly) know how to prevent famine, plague, and war, the author begins by asking what subsequent challenges humanity will focus on. He does acknowledge that knowing how to solve problems is different from having solved them. He also presciently notes that a runaway plague could happen if management of the situation was poor. So what bothered me here wasn’t the premise, although I was initially skeptical. What bothered me was that the bulk of the book felt tangential to answering that question. As an example, a large section of the book focused on how human beings view animals. Do we think they have self-awareness? What does science have to say on that topic? Supposedly this section was going to be important for a later section discussing how upgraded humans or AI might treat ‘normal’ humans in the future. We never really returned to these ideas later though. Read more »

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

March 12, 2015 History, non-fiction 10 ★★★★

Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindTitle: Sapiens
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Source: Edelweiss
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: A surprisingly philosophical, funny, and thought-provoking trip through human history.

I think I picked this up because of a comparison to Jared Diamond and that could be why I expected a focus on the early years of humanity’s existence. In actuality, the author spends approximately equal time on the years before and after each of three major revolutions in human thought: the agricultural, cognitive, and scientific revolutions. I was also surprised by how philosophical this book was. Instead of simply relating a factual history of humanity, the author asks tough questions, discussing the foundations of current belief systems and wondering whether or not each of the major revolutions he discusses really made people happier. Read more »

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