Book review: 'Sapiens': A brief history of Humankind

Updated 17 April 2018
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Book review: 'Sapiens': A brief history of Humankind

In terms of scope and ambition, Yuval Harari’s aim to offer a “Brief History of Humankind” can’t be topped. But, over 512 pages, that is exactly what the historian and academic does — and with verve and skill.
“Sapiens” tells the story of how we — humankind — transformed ourselves from insignificant apes to the most dominant species on the planet.
Harari covers a lot of ground at pace in a loosely chronological way, taking up broad themes and ideas, and resisting the temptation to bombard the reader with facts and statistics. Instead, he offers thrilling arguments and challenging theories.
The book seeks an answer to the age-old question: “Why has humankind become the most influential species on Earth?” while also revealing the problems and solutions we have created both for ourselves and the rest of nature.
“Sapiens” is as fascinating as it is provocative — one theory is that wheat is the dominant life form on the planet. Well thought-out and brilliantly written, this book will have you looking at the world through new eyes.


What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

‘Marx predicted our present crisis and points the way out,’  writes Yanis Varoufakis in The Guardian’s Long Read Series.

Most people think communism has been consigned to the dustbin of history, but Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, goes back to the source and examines “The Communist Manifesto,” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and published in 1848.

Varoufakis said the book remains unsurpassed as a work of literature that foresaw the predatory global capitalism of the 21st century.

“Today, a similar dilemma faces young people: conform to an established order that is crumbling and incapable of reproducing itself, or oppose it, at considerable personal cost, in search of new ways of working, playing and living together?” Varoufakis wrote. “Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.”

Marx and Engels forecast that a powerful minority would prove “unfit to rule” over polarized societies.

“The manifesto gives its 21st-century reader an opportunity to see through this mess and to recognize what needs to be done so that the majority can escape from discontent into new social arrangements,” Varoufakis said.