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Likely Stories - Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? It is one of my favorite National Parks and one of the most memorable places I have visited.

Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, I was overwhelmed with sublime awe, I felt small and insignificant, contemplating the unfathomable scale of earth time. I felt the same way reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yoo vuhl Noah Hraa ree.

This massive work of popular non-fiction chronicles the entire history of our species, spanning a nearly incomprehensible amount of time.

Today, I am recommending the graphic adaptation of this book. At four hundred and sixty four pages, reading the original text of Sapiens is a significant undertaking. I am spinning too many plates to tackle a dense book of non-fiction, which is why I selected the graphic adaptation. Consuming the dense and informative text of Sapiens in this concentrated, illustrated format was perfect for this season of my life.

The graphic adaptation is split into two volumes. Volume One: The Birth of Humankind and Volume Two: The pillars of Civilization, the set is colorful, enlightening, and engaging. In both the original book and the graphic adaptation, Harari explores the five “revolutions” which have shaped human history, from the Cognitive Revolution seventy thousand years ago, and Agricultural Revolution, eleven thousand years ago, to the information revolution, just fifty years ago, he also theorizes what will come next for humanity.

This is a mind expanding read, which made me reconsider my place in the timeline of history. I thought of my countless ancestors who have lived before me, and the similarities and differences between my life and the lives of humans throughout time. I learned more about how our species has shaped eco-systems during each “revolution,” how cultures and civilizations were born and developed, and how our behaviors today are shaped by the experiences and lifestyles of people who lived tens of thousands of years before us.

This is a book I think about regularly, months after reading it. I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who enjoys learning about big history. It is also a great choice for readers who enjoy the graphic novel format. The graphic adaptation of Sapiens is concise and accessible enough to be enjoyed by young adult readers and adults alike. If you are in the mood to stand on the edge of the canyon of history, and stretch your understanding of your species, add Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind to your reading list.

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Heather White grew up in Waco, left after high school, and returned in 2019 to teach Art History classes at Baylor. Before lecturing at BU, she worked as a museum educator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and taught for local organizations in DFW, Houston, and OKC. She lives in Woodway with her husband and three kiddos.