If you love great story-telling and whip-smart writing with a sense of humour as sharp as its sense of purpose, you should read Sapiens.
If you're curious at all about the human condition, you should read Sapiens.
I don't read enough non-fiction, and when I do it tends to lean towards political and military history and true crime. But something about Bill Gates' recommendation for Sapiens in his summer reading list drew me to it.
A few pages in, I found myself quoting sections to friends and family - and the following week a friend reading the book was doing exactly the same. This is an exciting book, telling an incredible story, and one that is highlighted by astonishing insights and anecdotes. What gives it its power is the fact that it addresses a ton of questions that have probably been knocking idly around your head for decades, perhaps subconsciously, and delivers compelling, thought-provoking answers.
Sapiens tells a story of how Home Sapiens first the dominant species of the human genus, how we migrated from West Africa and then underwent three significant revolutions that us from the hunter-gatherers we were to the office workers, farmers, miners, footballers and astronauts we are today: agricultural, scientific and cognitive. It also covers the emergence of religion (including communism!), capitalism and our late march to 'amortality' (death only by accident).
It is billed as history, and so it is, and a grand sweep at that: 70,000 years in 450 pages. But there's science here too, theology, philosophy and much else to boot. I note from some reviews that many historians take issue with some of Harari's more sweeping statements. They might be right and I am not qualified to argue with either them or Harari.
And I don't really care whether he's 100% right or not. All history is subjective to one extent or the other, subject to interpretation, spin and error.
What has made Harari's interpretation such an outstanding success (Sapiens has been translated into 20 languages) is that it explains complex ideas simply and is thoroughly entertaining, interesting and provocative throughout.