Download kindle קיצור תולדות האנושות‎, [Ḳitsur toldot ha-enoshut]Author Yuval Noah Harari –

Is there anything dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don t know what they wantWhat a fantastic book I can see why everyone from Bill Gates to Barack Obama was raving about it It s an extremely compelling, accessible history almost like a novelization of humankind.I ve read a few of these brief history of the world books, most notably A History of the World in 100 Objects and Bryson s A Short History of Nearly Everything I liked both, but neither is as engaging as this book Also, Harari s book stays vague on the physics, dinosaurs and such, unlike Bryson s work, making this not so much about the whole universe, but specifically about humans Or, I should clarify, homo sapiens.Most of all, I like how easy to digest the author makes all this information I have a lot of respect for authors who can present something complex in simple terms I ve always liked the quote attributed to Einstein If You Can t Explain it to a Six Year Old, You Don t Understand it Yourself Anyone with a thesaurus can make something seem dense and complicated than it is it s much harder to explain something long and complicated in a way that everyone can enjoy.And it does read like a really exciting and fascinating novel Harari takes us through the history of human development and migration, through the Cognitive Revolution view spoiler a sudden increase in cognitive ability around 70,000 years ago, not the 1950s intellectual movement hide spoiler This book is a superficial gloss on human history Nice try but it excludes too much data in favor of an overarching conceptual view to be deeply interesting Stopped reading for reasons detailed below at p 304 of 416.Considering the outlandishness of some of its claims the downside of the Agricultural Revolution, the joys of Empire the book seems weirdly under sourced The bibliography is beyond meagre Don t get me wrong, I like a little informed speculation as much as anyone Take for example the claim that houses, their advent, became the psychological hallmark of a much self centered creature p 99 I, for one, would be delighted to know how one can discern the psychology of someone who lived than 9,000 years ago The apparently relevant note cited is 2 Robert B Marks, The Origins of the Modern World A Global and Ecological Narrative But when one looks up Mr Marks book one sees that it pertains only to the 15th to the 21st centuries CE.Another thing, the book seems all biological determinism and we know what that sort of thinking led to the Konzentrationslager The life of the mind is nothing here, the intellect nothing, all because it has no discernible basis in biology so reductive and materialist, too I m hoping this is just a rhetorical device Please, let it be Moreover, the author cherishes a certain sneering and glib tone which I find annoying Well, yes, now he s changing his tune, isn t he But not before thoroughly pissing me off Was that necessary Ah, now he s starting to celebrate the very social constructs the law, the state, joint stock corporations, etc that he so glibly belittled as imaginary myths a few pages back So his earlier arguments were disingenuous That s not something I prize in a writer Notwithstanding the questionable attempt to raise the reader s hackles, just mentioned, I find myself on p 170 and 95% of this is material I already know Granted, the author tries to package it as felicitously as possible, but it s still stuff I know and, no doubt, material my well read GR friends will also know What I had hoped for on cracking this formidable spine was something far intellectually challenging, like Naipaul Still, I find myself nursing a hope that this is just an overly long introduction to a thrilling thesis At the same time I fear it will turn out to be another tedious read for a far less learned general reader than myself Am I overqualified for this book Trepidation abounds 2.0 stars so far, inauspicious Meh It s really an undergraduate survey course, if that It s a great review of common knowledge that seeks to find new linkages and epiphanies It sometimes works But often the linkages are specious As when he terms liberal humanism a religion It isn t, though it s a neat shorthand for his minimalist theories Now I m reading about how religions are unifiers The author certainly has a flair for the obvious, I ll say that much Here s an example of author Harari s reductiveness, which is inevitable in a book skirting so many vast subjects On p 232 we read The Aryan race therefore had the potential to turn man into superman Nietzsche is nowhere mentioned The statement is wholly lacking in context the Nazis are glossed but that s all It really doesn t make coherent sense Gloss, that s the word that best describes this book A gloss.The writer is careless with metaphors We re told that cultures are mental parasites, that history disregards the happiness of individuals and that history made its most momentous choice p 243 244 To say such things is to give agency to the non sentient and adds to the narrative s by now utterly grating superficiality Here s yet another bizarro statement Had the Aztecs and Incas shown a bit interest in the world surrounding them and had they known what the Spaniards had done to their neighbors they might have resisted the Spanish conquest keenly and successfully p.292 Nonsense The Spaniards had guns, germs and steel Reread Jared Diamond and William H Prescott, Mr Harari Foreknowledge would have availed the indigenous peoples little or nothing The author goes on to admit as much in the paragraphs to follow, but why then wasn t that earlier sentence cut But it gets better If the subject peoples of the Inca Empire had known the fates of the inhabitants of Mexico, they would not have thrown in their lot with the invaders But they did not now Thus the native peoples of America paid a heavy price for their parochial outlook.It s astonishing the author should use that ecclesiastical word For what was the ostensible motivation of the conquerors but the glory of Christendom Harari is blaming the victims The world view of the Aztecs and Incas and others was limited Harari blames them because they had not yet advanced beyond that basic if incomplete awareness He then goes on to excoriate all of Asia and Africa for not having had the wherewithal to explore the world and conquer others But these are cultural predilections, not standardized goals applicable to all This leads to an unseemly West is the Best argument that s right out of Niall Ferguson s Empire The Rise and Demise of the British World Order Is this book popular because it essentially functions as the West s cheering section It s lovely we have developed science and technology and historiography etc I m glad I live in the West But it s absurd to say that earlier cultures, because they did not develop in a timely manner our own particular brand of curiosity, were deficient All cultures are blood soaked, our own included The world is only what it is, not some counter factual supposition. I believe I am relatively familiar with history in general, and I m usually not very excited about reading about it But this book was something else Beautifully written and easy to read, this book just made me want to know and about how the author thinks the world evolved to what it is today Revolution by revolution, religion by religion, conception by conception, things were simplified and yet still maintained valid points and it was never boring.The best thing about it was that it actually made me think.The author doesn t treat you as ignorant at all he doesn t assume you know nothing but assume you know a lot and understand a lot, and doesn t lecture about anything, and that attitude makes the book a pleasure to read.Just read it. This book had changed my life, the way I think, the way I precept the world.I think it should be an obligatory book for everyone on this planet. 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 In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari Spans The Whole Of Human History, From The Very First Humans To Walk The Earth To The Radical And Sometimes Devastating Breakthroughs Of The Cognitive, Agricultural And Scientific Revolutions Drawing On Insights From Biology, Anthropology, Paleontology And Economics, He Explores How The Currents Of History Have Shaped Our Human Societies, The Animals And Plants Around Us, And Even Our Personalities Have We Become Happier As History Has Unfolded Can We Ever Free Our Behaviour From The Heritage Of Our Ancestors And What, If Anything, Can We Do To Influence The Course Of The Centuries To Come Bold, Wide Ranging And Provocative, Sapiens Challenges Everything We Thought We Knew About Being Human Our Thoughts, Our Actions, Our Power And Our Future. Had I stopped reading after the first section, I d have given this a five stars and whined that the Goodreads platform doesn t aloe reviewers to go higher But I didn t stop I kept reading, until it got so bad, I found myself unable to do than skim, and eventually, to just skipping large chunks.It starts out as a fascinating discussion of the development and rise of our species, homo sapiens But starting in the second section on the Agricultural Revolution, Harari shift gears and drops any pretense of an scholarly work From that point on, it s all personal bias all the time This guy absolutely hates human beings and society It seems that he is completely stuck in the idea that the world would have been better off had humanity simply stayed put in the hunter gatherer stage.It seems all the countless billions of humans who lived since then are deluded and don t get it, and that only he understands Yeah, right OK There are worse sins than personal bias Many great writers have it and let it show But unlike Harari, the good ones work to try to justify the positions they take Harari, on the other hand just bombards readers with one opinion after another and treats them as proven fact, even though what he says is often debatable or out and out wrong That s one of the reasons I gave up on a close reading as I progressed into the second half Even when it seemed as if Harari was selling me something I didn t know which did not occur often , I simply did not trust him An author can choose to forego many things Credibility and trust are not among them.Perhaps the best way to illustrate this mess is through a conversation I once had among people who liked to discuss philosophy Somehow or other, though, this conversation veered off into a set of irritating rants on how western society sucks The thing that sticks out most in my memory is how the host went off on a diatribe about the greatness of nature and Native Americans and about how he was fine being a non vegetarian because the cows understood human need for meat and were happy to offer themselves as a precious spiritual gift to humanity My reply That conclusion is based on interviews with how many cows The conversation abruptly ended That is exactly the way I reacted to the self serving gibberish offered by Harari under the guise of scholarly presentation. It is again unpopular opinion time It seems it becomes a rule for me not to enjoy a book that everyone seems to love Well, someone has to Here we go with the review Prepare your tomatoes and raw eggs someone actually threw a raw egg at me once for fun but it bounced from my bum Sapiens beginning was fantastic I loved the author s voice and the information about the early days of the human kind was fascinating I did not read any non fiction about the origin of humans so I was excited to understand our origins better I could not stop highlighting interesting passages to include in my review or to read later Here are some of the ones that picked my interestIt s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven Telling effective stories is not easy The difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing everyone else to believe it Much of history revolves around this question how does one convince millions of people to believe particular stories about gods, or nations, or limited liability companies Yet when it succeeds, it gives Sapiens immense power, because it enables millions of strangers to cooperate and work towards common goals However, everything started to go downhill from somewhere in the middle of Part II From an eager and excited reader I slowly became pissed off, disappointed and struggled to finish I had several problems that plagued my reading experience and I plan to exemplify them below First of all, I soon grew tired of the author s ironic and condescending humor His ego was transpiring from all his words and his personal opinions and the way he tried to enforce them annoyed me and Secondly, I felt like many of his assumptions and extrapolations had no proof and they only represent the author s personal opinion For example, the way he supported for the whole book that humans were better of as hunter gathers without bringing no real arguments to support his opinion.Finally, I had a problem with the scope of Sapiens As the titles suggests, the book tries to be A Brief History of Humankind I believe he did not succeed very well to do that and the reason is that it is quite impossible to do what the author planned in less than 500 pages The task is too vast The result is mix of everything with no structure, jumping from one subject to another and confusing the reader The information was too vague, too general, it all resembled a set of interesting trivia.When reading other negative reviews of Sapiens I stumbled repeatedly on a recommendation Guns, Germs, and Steel The Fates of Human Societies The book was already on my TBR so it is going to be the next read on the subject I hope it will be better. I see many people complaining about the wild leaps of logic and the lack of footnotes but honestly, what did you expect in a 500 page book, not even with small print, that s supposed to give you a summary of all history from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present day Personally, I thought the basic idea was terrific the author has taken it upon himself to defend the Book of Genesis and show you that it s all true I have seen creationists attempt the same thing and fail miserably, with their pseudo scientific explanations of why the Earth is actually six thousand years old, how the Flood explains geology, etc None of this nonsense for clever Dr Harari He doesn t bother arguing about the places where science has obviously got it right the Big Bang, plate tectonics, evolution , but takes them as givens He doesn t get into the tangled reasoning about where a Creator might come into the picture here, there is none Instead, he cuts to the chase and gives you a story that s actually very interesting About ten thousand years ago, people largely stopped being hunter gatherers and started being farmers This is usually presented by modern commentators as a Good Thing But in Genesis, it isn t we are expelled from the Garden of Eden and forced to eke out a miserable existence tilling the unforgiving soil, and now we have to live with the consequences We have had the presumption to eat the fruit of the Tree so that we may become as gods, knowing good and evil Harari ingeniously defends the idea that this, or less literally, is what happened We became farmers, then we started developing better technology, then we constructed cities, and finally, very recently, we invented science We have made the most of our position as lords of creation, driving many species extinct and turning a few others into efficient machines for producing meat But none of this has made us happier In fact, as the Bible says, it s made us and miserable We re evolutionarily adapted for being hunter gatherers, not software engineers or stock traders We are on the verge of learning how to conquer death and make ourselves immortal but even then, we won t be as happy as we were back in the Garden We ll likely find new and even worse ways to cut ourselves off from our true heritage.Harari takes the position that our great strength as a species, the thing that sets us apart from all other living beings, is our ability to make up stories about things that are only to be found in our imaginations, and then treat them as though they were real by this process, they become real As he points out, empires and religions and money don t actually exist, but now they rule our lives He s particularly interesting on the subject of money Again, I can see some readers who dislike what they call his cheerleading for modern Western society I don t think Harari is a fan of the West, and the book is in my humble opinion not Eurocentric at all for example, Harari seems to like Buddhism rather than Christianity He s just pointing out the indisputable fact that Western society has taken over the world, and he ascribes that, than anything else, to the West s ability to make up a better story about money, which we call capitalism If this is where you re coming from, talking about the power of myth to transform human existence, you don t go overboard with the footnotes There are no footnotes in the Bible You do your best to tell a great story, and you hope that it will transform our existence.I think Harari s done pretty well here in terms of achieving those goals KudosI also have a frivolous review of the book here The book was too much a basic primer for me, at least to start with, but that s probably because I ve read too many books on our origins biologically and culturally Once the author had us settled into the civilization of cities he waxed romantically as authors on this subject quite often do on the life of the hunter gatherer and its perfection I ve just finished Sebastian Junger s Tribe On Homecoming and Belonging and there was of that If it was all so perfect then of us would return to that ancient life style where people had leisure, freedom and happiness according to Harari and Junger, neither of whom have given up their miserable materialistic lives for stalking around with a spear The book got better There were some good explanations of why we are as we are and how things developed, Such as human conversation evolving see below so we could gossip about our fellow tribes people I didn t always agree with the author But I always enjoy books like that to some extent because it gives me a different point of view, different reasons and things to think about So this was good But then it dragged at the end as the author got preachy and scifi technological about our bionic futures At some time not in the unimaginable future, robots will think for themselves and be able to feel, and then they will supercede us Yes well Asimov covered all that than half a century ago It s not going to happen we are too complex to duplicate And anyway I can t see robots gossiping and if they don t do that what have they got to talk about view spoiler the weather I suppose, if they were British robots hide spoiler Choose Your Fictions CarefullyThere are far too many fascinating assertions in this book to even mention But for me the most fascinating is Harari s idea of the Cognitive Revolution which took place about 70,000 years agoWe might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation Why did it occur in Sapiens DNA rather than in that of Neanderthals It was a matter of pure chance, as far as we can tell But it s important to understand the consequences of the Tree of Knowledge mutation than its causes It is this mysterious, and as yet unexplained, change in human genetics that he pinpoints as the primary reason for the ultimate success of the species Homo Sapiens in competition not just with established flora and fauna but with other human forms Interestingly, Harari s argument also establishes the anthropological foundations for literary post modernism.To over simplify, but not by much, the Cognitive Revolution of Sapiens is precisely the ability to tell, and eventually read and write, stories, that is, fictional narratives which are interesting, entertaining, and above all convincing This ability, an evolutionary enigma because it does not give obviously immediate advantage, underlies human ability to organize beyond very small units, to cooperate in matters of survival, and to prevail against competing species which are stronger, quicker, better adapted to the environment, able to speak in a varied manner, and even clever.These narratives, according to the narrative told by Harari, begin in gossip, talk among ourselves about ourselves, which is a behaviour that is now as far as anyone knows unique to Homo Sapiens, and may even have even been unique among others of the genus Homo Gossip leads to shared tales about common experiences, ancestors, and problems These tales evolve into myths which are widely shared and identify large groups as usThere are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings Such tales incrementally employ an increasing lexicon of fictional, that is to say abstract, ideas It is these ideas which allow the ultimate success of Sapiens, not necessarily because of their pragmatic qualities, but because, whatever they are, they are shared Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined When the Agricultural Revolution opened opportunities for the creation of crowded cities and mighty empires, people invented stories about great gods, motherlands and joint stock companies to provide the needed social links While human evolution was crawling at its usual snail s pace, the human imagination was building astounding networks of mass cooperation, unlike any other ever seen on earth As modern existential and linguistic philosophers have thought for some time, these ideas scientific, religious, technological, social, legal are fundamental fictions that become progressively indistinguishable from the natural world which is apart from the imagined world of language As Harari states what is a reiteration of this philosophical conclusion Three main factors prevent people from realising that the order organising their lives exists only in their imagination a The imagined order is embedded in the material world b The imagined order shapes our desires c The imagined order is inter subjective It is this invisibility of these linguistic fictions which constitute daily life that is both the greatest strength and greatest flaw of our species We are able to organise ourselves, because of them, to travel to the Moon We are also able to believe a half dozen untruths before breakfast The internet is perhaps the best example of the paradox of our fraught existence since it promotes both cooperation and mass deceit For me the implications are clear 1 literature is the only hope for the world Fiction novels, fairy tales, fantasies, and lots of em are the only means to get a grip on reality Reading lots of fiction developes the aesthetic sense And it is only through aesthetics that one can decide what is important and how to deal with what is important 2 It is also clear to me that novels cultivated our species genetically over millennia for this very reason to get us better at reading them.Postscript For a rather plausible opposing view to Harari s, see  קיצור תולדות האנושות‎, [Ḳitsur toldot ha-enoshut]

About the Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Professor Harari was born in Haifa, Israel, to Lebanese parents in 1976 He received his Ph.D from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem He specialized in World History, medieval history and military history His current research focuses on macro historical questions What is the relation between history and biolo

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