Had I not read professor, historian, philosopher Yuval Noah Harari’s previous books, which sold over twenty-seven million copies, I would have thought his latest work a stunt – SAPIENS: A GRAPHIC HISTORY, (release date October 27, 2020).
But as I discovered, this book validated the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Harari, in collaboration with co-writer David Vandermeulen and illustrator Daniel Casanave, produced a unique and highly effective pictorial rendering of the story of mankind. They accomplished it by employing clever, colorful, and lucid illustrations, complemented by easily understood explanations encased in dialogue balloons. On the opening pages of this fascinating history, we are spirited back to a time when our ancestors mutated from monkeys and apes to become a unique species.
In this fascinating work we learn many interesting things about how we, a relatively weak creature, managed to survive in a hostile world. How did our forebearer, Homo Sapiens, become the sole survivor of the six human species: Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo Erectus, Dwarves, and Homo Luzonensis. And how did taming fire help shape our bodies and brain which ultimately resulted in giving us an advantage over our fellow Hominids.
Harari delves into a discussion of the question whether we are the product of design or simply the sole ‘human’ survivors of an endless series of mutations, adaptations, and accidents. He explains why our ability to cooperate in large numbers coupled with a not so silent partner named Myth, was critical to our success and dominance.
According to Harari, the myths we create are the glue that binds large numbers of us together. They enable us to work together in exceptionally large numbers, a critical component empowering us to quickly change the behaviors of large populations, as opposed to having to wait thousands of years for slow genetic mutations.
After a careful reading of this absorbing account of the birth of mankind and its impact on our planet, it is abundantly clear that we truly are the beneficiaries of the genes and dreams of our ancient ancestors, and where we carry their legacy has limitless possibilities.