Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
This is the book I have recommended the most during the last 2 or 3 years.
Now you probably have heard of Sapiens since it has sold more than a million in English only. If you haven’t, please stop watching Kim Kardashian on Instagram and find a copy of this fantastic story.
Despite our evolution, our technology, our culture, we probably have little difference with the women and men who lived tens of thousand years ago.
This book has a great ambition: tell the story of humankind from the moment we became humans or sapiens to the moment we will not be sapiens anymore.
Of course, there is a lot of speculation all way long and many scientists can disagree with some intellectual shortcuts or simplifications. But this is an interesting way of looking at our history from hunter-gatherer to neolithic revolution, the invention of writing, history of religions and industrialisation… In a few under pages, everything is put in perspective.
My big take away
The book starts with a question that has obsessed my grand-father: why did Neanderthal man disappear? According to what we know, they were stronger and had a bigger brain than Sapiens. They are the one who logically should have been the dominant species.
So what happened?
The theory is called The Cognitive Revolution: about 70,000 years ago, Sapiens started to tell fictional stories, we started to create fictions, fictional characters, myths.
With myths, we gained the power to create cultures and this ability allowed us to create larger groups than any other human. Instead of limiting the size of the groups to tribes or families, Sapiens started to build organisations that were bigger than the men who were part of it.
He gives the example of Peugeot who’s symbol is a lion.
It’s our capacity to tell stories that build companies, religions, cultures, countries, nations…