Quite possibly the best non-fiction I’ve read all year. Yuval Noah Harari effortlessly blends facts, analogies, historical examples and harsh realities to create an incredibly informative and enjoyable text. Like the best non-fiction, the book has altered the way I view the world after reading it.
As the title suggests, the book is nominally a history. However, it also looks at history from multiple disciplines, so that we see the history of the human race not just from a historian’s point of view, but also a sociologist’s, anthropologist’s and economist’s, to name a few. This type of approach is uncommon, but very welcome, which makes the book stand out amongst other histories.
Non-fiction can often suffer from being quite dry to read, especially when written by academics, but I didn’t find this to be the case at any point with this book. The meaning flowed well and wasn’t interrupted by frequent unknown or uncommon words. The author also made his descriptions of events and places vivid by using figurative language that might more commonly be associated with fiction.
The book portrays a wide range of information. It paints the broad strokes of what is going on during a particular time or event, then dives deeper to give multiple examples, often not from a Eurocentric point of view. However, the way the author then analyses these event is the highlight of the book. The analysis is thought through from multiple perspectives, logically determining which is most likely and which he doesn’t agree with personally. The depth of the analysis make me feel as if I truly knew about the subject, while the concision meant I was at no time bored.
Overall, this book gets 7 out of 7 from me, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I’d recommend this to any fan of non-fiction, as well as suggest this is an excellent jumping off point if you want to start reading it.