Sapiens: A brief history of humankind Sapiens: A brief history of humankind 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,' has appeared on both the summer reading lists of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. (Photo: Sapiens: A brief history of humankind)

The book Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates want you to read this summer

'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind' offers a remarkable timeline of our rise to becoming the world's most dominant life form.

The rise of mankind, from a species in the Stone Age competing with others on a level playing field, to the dominant force it is today is a story some 70,000 years in the making. It's all the wonder then that Israeli author Yuval Harari has managed to succinctly weave such a tale into a groundbreaking book that's less than 500 pages long. Titled "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," the tome has captured the attention of the world by offering a historian's perspective on our remarkable transition from simple hunter gatherers to complex agricultural, industrial, and scientific societies.

Because Harari, a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presents this origin story in such an easy-to-digest and entertaining way, his book has caught the attention of several luminaries. No less than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates over the last year have recommended "Sapiens" as part of their summer reading lists; with the latter calling it a "fun and engaging" look at early human history.

"It’s so provocative and raises so many questions about human history that I knew it would spark great conversations around the dinner table," wrote Gates in a recent review of the book. "It didn’t disappoint. In fact, in the weeks since we’ve been back from our holiday, we still talk about 'Sapiens'."

Sapiens summer reading

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates chose 'Sapiens,' by Israeli historian Yuval Harari, as one of 5 great reads for the summer. (Photo: Bill Gates/https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Summer-Books-2016)

In an interview with NPR last year, Harari shared that up until about 30,000 years ago, there were actually five living species of humans on the planet. The 40-year-old credits the eventual success of Homo sapiens to a revolution in our ability to cooperate in large numbers.

"If you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights," he said. "These are all things that do not exist objectively, but they exist only in the stories that we tell and that we spread around. This is something very unique to us, perhaps the most unique feature of our species."

To whet your appetite for what many have declared is a book "you'll have trouble putting down," check out Harari's TED talk on some of his discoveries from "Sapiens" below.


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