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The Sapiens Audiobook: The Story of Us All

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The Sapiens Audiobook

It’s a pretty big achievement for any book, but especially a non-fiction title about human evolution (Darwin notwithstanding), to sell over 1 millions copies, but that’s just what Yuval Noah Harari has done with Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Although lauded in the literary press upon its release, some of the book’s success seems to have come from word-of-mouth recommendation. Nearly everyone at hibooks has listened to the book and raved about it; I’ve recommended it SO MANY people.

Harari has written two other fascinating books: Homo Deus, about where humanity might be headed, and 21 Questions for the 21st Century, dealing with some meaty contemporary issues. Read more about each title below and listen to the audio samples!

I think it’s one of those books that gets everything just right: the mix between fact, narrative quality, and relatability – the Sapiens audiobook is, after all, telling the story of all our histories. Like Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, it’s a book that’s perfect for dinner party factoids.

I remember reading the section about the advent of the Agricultural Revolution, a revolution that took place simultaneously in different parts of the world. Harari makes the claim, anthropomorphism aside, that we humans didn’t domesticate wheat, wheat domesticated us, that is, wheat secured its continued existence by becoming the staple food of an increasingly settled, less nomadic, species.

Also fascinating is that by spurning foraging, a technique that offered our ancestors a rich and varied diet, agriculturally-dependant humans not only had worse diets, they were also far more vulnerable to starvation: fruits, berries, and animals are more stable food sources compared to relying on one crop at the mercy of the elements. Agriculture also required more work, less leisure time, and lead to a population boom and mouths to feed.

Another point made by Harari in the Sapiens audiobooks is a common concept but one that blows my mind every time I read it: money doesn’t really exist, especially in our modern digital economy. The invention of money was an intellectual invention: it exists in our minds.

When the Bank of England sold off the gold reserves under a Labour government, money didn’t stop ‘meaning’ something because there was no longer anything to tack its value too – everyone just continued to believe that a certain piece of paper featuring the Queen’s head was ‘worth’ £5. As Harari says:

“Gold coins and dollar bills have value only in our common imagination. Their worth is not inherent in the chemical structure of the metal or paper, nor in their color or shape. Money isn’t a material reality—it is a mental construct. It works by converting matter into mind. But why does it succeed? Why should anyone be willing to exchange a fertile rice paddy for a handful of useless gold coins? Why are you willing to flip hamburgers, sell health insurance, or babysit three obnoxious brats when all you get for your exertions is a few pieces of colored paper?”

http://www.ynharari.com/topic/money-and-politics/

The Sapiens audiobooks is full of great facts, some that might be new, some that are common knowledge, but it’s Harari’s way of telling the story of our evolution that makes everything seem fresh. This audiobooks is perfect for anyone interested in evolution, biology, religion, sociology, history, to name a few.

The Homo Deus Audiobook

Whereas Sapiens offers us a panoramic view of our ancestors, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow switches horizons to explore what our species might become in the future. The book explores the growth of AI (artificial intelligence) and it’s seemingly inevitable climax: the usurpation of human beings in the world of work which would create ‘a massive new class of economically useless people’. Governments are starting to react to the possibility that millions of people will be potentially become unemployed with the trialling of universal incomes: paying citizens a fixed income, without them having to work.

One area of focus in the Homo Deus audiobook explores three possible scenarios that humanity might undertake:

  1. biological engineering
  2. cyborg engineering
  3. engineering of non-organic ‘beings’

Faced with resource scarcity, famine, population explosion, and climate change, these methods above will enable humanity to greatly expand its life span, with the ultimate goal of immortality. The Homo Deus audiobook builds on the thesis of Sapiens: that humanity has ‘progressed’ from animism, theism, humanism, to its potential climax – the Übermensch.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century Audiobook

Sandwiched between the past and the future, the 21 Lessons for the 21st Century audiobook focuses firmly on our present situation, with an emphasis on fake news, terrorism, and immigration. The world has probably never been a more confusing place, and in Harari’s third book, we asks to concentrate on the issues that are currently affecting the world. He asks three pertinent question:

  • What is really happening right now?
  • What are today’s greatest challenges and choices?
  • What should we pay attention to?

The title sounds a bit like a self-help book, but don’t let that fool you; the 21 Lessons for the 21st Century audiobook is written in author’s signature accessible style and it grapples with contemporary, and contentious, global issues. For an idea of what’s covered in the audiobook, here’s a list of the chapters:

21 Lessons for the 21st Century audiobook chapter list:

Part I: The Technological Challenge

  1. Disillusionment
  2. Work
  3. Liberty
  4. Equality

Part II: The Political Challenge

  1. Community
  2. Civilisation
  3. Nationalism
  4. Religion
  5. Immigration

Part V: Resilience

  1. Education
  2. Meaning
  3. Mediation

Part III: Despair and Hope

  1. Terrorism
  2. War
  3. Humility
  4. God
  5. Secularism

Part IV: Truth

  1. Ignorance
  2. Justice
  3. Post-truth
  4. Science Fiction

What explains the rise of humans?

source

About the Author

Yuval Noah Harari has a PhD in history from Oxford University and lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books have sold over 12 million copies in 44 languages.

 

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Steve Partridge

Steve is from the UK and has lived in London, Bulgaria, and Berlin. He studied Christian theology at King’s College London and spent several years working in publishing. His articles, books reviews, interviews and essays have been published in a range of digital and print magazines. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Festival Writers Prize. His obsession with books and writing led him to start his own ‘BookTube’ channel on YouTube (to which you should probably subscribe). You can find him talking nonsense on Twitter @StPartridge.

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