Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
first published in Hebrew in Israel in 2011, and then in English in 2014 endeavours to show that it is possible to "ask very big questions and answer them scientifically".
From the sleevenotes -
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?
In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?
Sapiens is the book we have chosen as the base text for a Reading Group event at Site Gallery - we are inviting each of 10 applicants to respond to our chosen excerpt with one of their own in response. Each chosen excerpt, as with ours, shoud take no longer than 2-3 minutes to read. Each applicant is invited to join us on a short circular walk around Sheffield, where the ten responsive texts will be read out at designated points along the way.
Here is our chosen text -