Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has released his 2016 list of summertime reads and it includes a 400-page history of the human race.
Light reading it is not. But for Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, being included on Gates’ “5 Books to Read This Summer” is definitely a new feather in his cap.
“This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core. But there’s no science or math to my selection process. The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep,” Gates blogged.
Harari, a lecturer in the department of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offers up a fresh perspective on the history of our species. His book, first published in 2014, is being translated into almost 30 languages, according to his website.
In his book, Harari argues that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; he calls the treatment of animals in modern agriculture probably the worst crime in history, and suggests that people were happier before we started farming.
“Both Melinda and I read this one, and it has sparked lots of great conversations at our dinner table,” writes Gates on his blog.
“Harari takes on a daunting challenge: to tell the entire history of the human race in just 400 pages. He also writes about our species today and how artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and other technologies will change us in the future. Although I found things to disagree with—especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming—I would recommend Sapiensto anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species.”
Gates is only the latest big-name Harari fan. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg included Harari’s book on his widely followed “A Year of Books” blog.
“This book is a big history narrative of human civilization — from how we developed from hunter-gatherers early on to how we organize our society and economy today,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
“Following the Muqaddimah, which was a history from the perspective of an intellectual in the 1300s, Sapiens is a contemporary exploration of many similar questions. I’m looking forward to reading these different perspectives.”
While Harari’s book has already achieved international bestseller status, recommendations from Facebook’s founder and Microsoft’s creator are sure to make this Israeli a book club star.
In September, Harari will publish his follow-up book, ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’, which is a provocative and speculative look at the future of the human race.