by Yuval Noah Harari
Around the world: Israel
How obtained: leant from a friend
When my friend E lent me this book, the way she described it made me think it was a story of a fictional people group down the generations, highlighting what we know of how humans developed and learnt knew things. It is actually entirely non fiction- about real humans, and what we can deduce about our origins from history, archaeology and science. It is about what really influenced history, how we came to be where we are now, and the impact all these changes had on us. Not all of human history and progress was actually in human’s best interest. And most changes were both positive and negative.
Some of the interesting points were the discussion around how wheat domesticated us probably more than we domesticated it, seeing most of what we take for granted that makes our society run as myths and constructs, and contemplating how worldview affected the ability of nations and empires to benefit from globalisation and the industrial and scientific revolutions.
There were only two areas I felt he didn’t hit the nail on the head- firstly he didn’t really try to reason male female dynamics- I wonder wether this was from wanting avoid risk of offence, but given his treatment of religions and many other things i doubt it. The second was the understanding of mental illness was limited (saying it is all biochemisty, when social and psychological factors have been proven to play a role too- psychology is just as effective as medication in moderate depression)
Overall it was a very insightful book, and had several ways of thinking about history and society that were entirely new to me- so I would definitely recommend it.