Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 220
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a retelling of human history by Yuval Noah Harari. It describes our struggle to advance through revolutions of change, and it warns of our ultimate defeat by technological forces. Harari’s premise is that our hunter-gatherer minds became corrupt over the course of history as people abandoned their connection with the natural world to pursue progress and profit.
Because human beings rule the planet, Harari describes our rise to power, and he shows how we gained our power through a series of revolutions that separated us from our roots and led our species on a downward path. He retraces human history by explaining the acquisition of language and the development of critical thinking, the growth of agriculture and science, the rise of capitalism, the spread of religion, the growth of the information age, and the advent of the biotechnical revolution. He explains how each of these developments led to the next, and he claims that the next development will be our decline. Harari claims that over the course of history, humans gained power but not happiness, and due to our own devices, humans will be replaced by engineered beings who have the ability to live forever. He claims that immortality is the only true happiness, and thus happiness is impossible for human beings.