Select language, opens an overlay


A Brief History of Humankind

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one--homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780062316097
Call Number: 909 H2125s
Characteristics: 443 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Yuval Noah Harari’s celebrated Sapiens does for human evolution what Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time did for physics.… He does a superb job of outlining our slow emergence and eventual domination of the planet.--Forbes

Very interesting, thought provoking book. It was much more sociological, and not as archaeological as I thought it would be...not a 'brief history' by any measure.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 03, 2021

A worthwhile read. The insight as to what causes happiness in humans was eye opening.

FPL_Amy May 06, 2021

A comprehensive and brief introduction to anthropology that considers the impact humankind has on animals, the world, and each other.

Apr 23, 2021

Really thought provoking! I loved this book and highly recommend it, even if you think you don't care about the history of your species.

Antaeus Mar 23, 2021

This book blew me away with its depth of knowledge and its scope (most of human history). A great history lesson with a compassionate and moral perspective.

Jan 11, 2021

Wonderful book to read!

JCLIanH Jan 11, 2021

Sapiens is an endlessly fascinating big-picture look at our species. While a brief history of humanity seems like it might be dry, this one is specifically written for the everyday homo sapien and is full of fascinating things to ponder.

Nov 11, 2020

The scope of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is vast and strikes a tone not limited to just history. For example, the opening chapters discuss how the caveman lived while the closing chapters discuss the biological possibility of everlasting happiness. This is an extraordinary book.

"There are no lawyer bees."

This is the author's humorous way of illustrating one of the most profound chapters in the entire book. In effect, for homo sapiens to band together in functionally larger and larger groups, we need to collectively subscribe to ever-increasingly complex belief systems. The Rule of Law, as implied from the above bee example, is one of those shared belief systems. Our civilization's legal system is so complex as to require entire professions of lawyers to help resolve the inevitable conflicts. Bees need no such designation because their group, while highly complex, is not nearly complex by a long stretch as to require it.

"Religions have a shared belief in a supreme power and so do political systems."

As the author argues and continuing on the theme from above, the definition of religion is much closer to the definition of a political system, such as democracy, than we care to comfortably admit. We're loathe to concede this because we want to believe our modern democratic institutions are leagues ahead, intellectually, of thousand-year-old religions. While I do believe our political systems are better, I also see the author's point in that both are simply large, complex belief systems governed by a shared subservience to a central higher power. The God of Abraham for the Christian/Jewish/Muslim faiths, for example, and the will of the people and checks and balances for a modern democracy. Both are ideologies that bind a culture together. This is a brilliant revelation, and it's altered my view the world for the better.

"How do religions solve the problem of evil AND the expectation of an all-powerful god?"

This problem has been vexing religious scholars for centuries. It's one of the central critiques of religion in general. The author offers his own solution to the problem, both a serious challenge and just as likely not to be taken seriously. It's so elegant and dastardly that I laughed out loud when I heard it. I won't spoil it for the reader but it's a good bit of irreverent philosophical humor in a book of straightforward scientific facts.


I don't recall ever describing a non-fiction book as epic, but that's one of the best single descriptors I can offer up for this remarkable journey through history. My remarks above barely scratch the surface. Go read it.

Jul 25, 2020

This is one of the best books I have read on human history. I highly recommend to anyone interested in our own evolution as humans. It is remarkable that the author can fit the entire history in a single book and make it very readable and enjoyable.

Jul 23, 2020

Brilliant on so many levels. Should be a text in grades 11 and 12 if we aspire to a better informed citizenry.

mryanhess Jun 22, 2020

And now for something completely different. One of the freshest explorations of human history I've found. A witty and thought-provoking read!

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Oct 22, 2019

SMariko thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Mar 17, 2018

ranvapa thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 07, 2017

empbee thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


Add a Quote
Nov 05, 2015

Both scientist and conqueror began by admitting ignorance - they both said 'I don't know what's out there.' They both felt compelled to go out and make new discoveries.

SFPL_ReadersAdvisory Aug 18, 2015

"We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us."


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SFPL

To Top