e live in overwhelmingly compli-
cated times, bombarded with
too much information and not
enough context. Oxford-educated
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari knows
how to make the pieces fit and distills
complexity into comprehensibility. The
author explores our past and offers predic-
tions for our future in two books, Sapiens:
A Brief History of Mankind and Homo
Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.
The tomes make for powerful reading.
Harari charts the evolution of Homo sapiens,
which he says has evolved to achieve great
things while at the same time wiping out a
majority of flora and fauna and moving
toward obsolescence through the ascension
of artificial intelligence.
It’s not all dire news, however. He also
highlights how humankind has managed
to work together positively throughout the
millennia to survive and progress. How?
By the stories we tell ourselves.
“In ancient Egypt millions of people
cooperated to build the pyramids because
they all believed in the same stories about
gods and demons,” explains Harari. “In the
modern economy millions of people
cooperate to build cars and computers
because they all believe in the same stories
about corporations and money. Just like the
Egyptian gods, modern corporations exist
only in the strange stories invented by our
powerful priests, which we call ‘lawyers.’ …
‘Corporations’ are not corporeal at all. They
have no bodies, and you cannot see or touch
them, but you are still willing to work all
your life in their service.”
The author’s work has gained him
international acclaim and awards. He is a
lecturer in the History Department at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has given
three TED Talks and addressed the World
Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos
earlier this year. His writing is always a work
in progress and inspires deep discussion.
“All my books were written through a
dialogue with students, colleagues and
readers,” says Harari. “It took me about
eight years to write Sapiens, three years to
write Homo Deus. So maybe I am getting
better at this.” His writing can inspire us to
be better too.
Author Bryan Reesman lives in New York.
Smart, no phone
Author o;ers up a history
of human storytelling
by BRYAN REESMAN
Sapiens and Homo Deus
(Item #1296394) are
available now in most