What a tremendous book this is. Subtitled, ‘A Brief History of Tomorrow’, this follow-up to ‘Sapiens’ confirms the author’s mastery of deep research combined with an intelligence that permits him to see the world as a whole.
I selected this book to read now as I’m at the initial editing stage of a science fiction novel and the blurb suggested it might help me consider my imagined future in a broader way. It has done that. And how.
Harari displays incredible insight in his analysis of the world we inhabit. His knowledge of science, history, religion and much else brings the reader a comprehensive, and alarming, picture of the state of humanity now and the potential future that lays before us. He manages to combine down-to-earth common sense with a deep understanding of the most abstruse theories surrounding so many areas of human activity and thinking.
The book is divided into three sections, preceded by a longish, but eminently readable, introduction to the New Human Agenda. Part two looks at Meaning from a human perspective. Part three looks at Control and who holds the power, who might hold it in the future. Not a book to skim read or even cherry pick, this is a volume that requires your concentration throughout. Dealing, as it does, with complex issues and themes that may be new to some readers, it nevertheless describes these in plain language that everyone should understand. I have learned a lot about the world in which I live whilst perusing these pages.
The future, a time I constantly consider in my life and in my writing of fiction, is an unknown land. What Harari does here is to give that strange and alien destination potential shape and form. And I admit that what he reveals is not a world I would wish to inhabit. Having said that, his vision is, as he so eloquently explains, not a prophesy. It is, as all such endeavours must be, a series of speculations based on current knowledge interpolated and made subject to imagination to reach a possible conclusion.
This is a book that’s important. This is a book that’s vital. This is a book all people should read. A warning about what may happen to humanity if we fail to act to prevent the possible future. Our children deserve our attention to what might be. If we fail them in this, we may fail the future of humanity.