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From Animals into Gods: A Brief History of Humankind

About 100,000 years ago, Homo sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. Our ancestors shared the planet with at least five other human species, and their role in the ecosystem was no greater than that of gorillas, fireflies, or jellyfish. Then, about 70,000 years ago, a mysterious change took place in the mind of Homo sapiens, transforming it into the master of the entire planet and the terror of the ecosystem. Today it stands on the verge of becoming a god, acquiring divine abilities of creation and destruction. * How did Homo sapiens conquer Earth? * What befell the other human species? * When did money, states and religion appear, and why? * How did science and capitalism become the dominant creeds of the modern era? * Does history have a direction? * Is there justice in history? * Did people become happier as history unfolded? * And what are the chances that Homo sapiens will still be around in a hundred years?

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  1. LionOfArnona says

    Human History from the viewpoint of a Compassionate Alien If the proverbial Martian were to write a history of Humankind, and s/he were capable of empathy, it might look something like this book.This isn’t history of Kings and dates, this is history on the grand scale of the epic changes we have gone through: from being just another primate on the African Savanna, to being capable of nuclear fission and genetic engineering.Harari’s history is wider ranging than Diamond’s (and not prone to Diamond’s Geographical Determinism), and more focused on Humanity than Bryson’s .What is really outstanding about this book is that Harari manages to defamiliarize Human culture, taking us along for a ride on the flip side of reality. In a set piece at the beginning of the book, he takes the Peugeot symbol and shows that magic is not relegated to our past: the Peugeot corporation exists only in ‘inter-subjective reality’; a calamity could come along and destroy all Peugeot assets, and even kill all Peugeot employees, but Peugeot would continue to exist. But if a certain class of shaman/wizard called a ‘Judge’ or ‘Lawyer’ were to perform a certain ceremony in just the right way, he can dissolve the corporation and it would cease to exist, even though all the assets and people who used to belong to the corporation are alive and well.This is one example of the fruit of the first revolution in Human history: the verbal revolution. Harari guides us through two more, the agricultural revolution and the scientific revolution. Anyone who has been through the school system may think they know what happened in those revolutions, but Harari may surprise you yet again.When Harari ends his review of our history with a prediction of ‘singularity’ (quite the buzz word today), he bases it on our ability to do an end run around evolution now that we can manipulate genes to make ‘fluorescent green rabbits’.In a final surprise, Harari departs into something completely different: Happiness. The history of happiness is one of the best parts of the book, and I won’t spoil it for you.Enjoy!Note: I read this book in the original Hebrew, can’t wait to see how the translation fared.

  2. Rony R says

    Brilliant book Brilliant book! Every chapter adds another engaging insight into our understanding of the world. Our History, philosophy, psychology, economy, culture and beliefs are all cleverly analyzed and illuminated with clarity, common sense, innovation and compassion.

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