· 5 min read

Sapiens Book Summary

The best book I have read in 2020

The best book I have read in 2020

Why this summary

The book took around two months to complete. I am a slow reader. I am trying to write this as a way to better process what I understood.

This summary may spoil your reading experience if you have not read the book yourself.

The order of points is random.

The book

The book is a brief history. It transitions fast and beautifully from one topic to another.

It also presents arguments and counter-arguments in a way that tries to explain the whole thing from maximum points of view. This kind of writing and thinking is something I aspire.



  1. We had a lot of cousin humans. Once upon a time, Around six species of humans roamed the earth at the once.
  2. We are not unique. 3 billion years ago our universe was born. It will stay for billions. We are not even the human species that has survived the longest (as of yet).
  3. There are countless species. We are just specie that got lucky thanks to our intellect and imagined realities.

Imagined Realities

  1. History is random. There are cause and effect to certain events but there is no reason why history could not have turned in some other way.
  2. Religion is a recent thing. (10,000 years ago).
  3. The way we interact and work together with stranger and form groups larger than 150 is by imaging things.
  4. Societal constructs like nation, company, ethics, etc are imagined realities shared by billions. It’s so strong that we act according to them in the real world.
  5. There is no justice in history. Even a human right is an imagined construct. There is nothing in biology that suggest it to be a truth. These constructs do help keep people sane.

Destroyer of Species

  1. Huntergathers were healthier than us but they did not live for that long.
  2. There is no going back once the Agriculture Revolution started. Why would someone want to go back to hunting?
  3. We are Thanos for other species. Our species has captured and killed and effected almost all animals on earth.
  4. We don’t look at animals with the same view as we look at other humans. We abolished human slavery but are okay with animal slavery.


  1. Science is largely a product of Capitalism and politics.
  2. Capitalism allowed us to progress fast.
  3. Capitalist if not checked can do anything for money. Slave trading companies were listed in the London Stock Exchange. This seems kind of similar to current privacy breaching companies or how we farm animals.
  4. The stock investor would not care what happens in the company. he is just interacted in making a return.
  5. Government and legal checks are necessary to keep Capitalists in check.

Accepting Ignorance

  1. The scientific revolution was a result of Europeans accepting that they are ignorant. That they don’t know things.
  2. The reason the Scientific revolution took place in Europe instead of India or China (even if Asia controlled 80% of world GDP) is because of social constructs.
  3. Asians did not accept their ignorance and did not venture out to find answers to things they did not know.
  4. New material discovered increase progress rapidly.


  1. The 3 things that brought humankind together; Empired, Religion, Money.
  2. Money crossed lines which religion could not. Everybody loves money.
  3. There have been many types of money and does not include just a coin.
  4. We are all influenced by European culture. No country has an original culture. It’s a mix.


  1. Maths allowed us to predict the future.
  2. Time and timetable tracking is recent. Though it is very efficient.


  1. Western liberals mix their view with the Buddhist view.
  2. The Buddhist view is not that the happiness in individual and it must be protected.
  3. The main part is the internal states are fleeting and they change every moment. There is no point in chasing after it.


Banks and the whole financial system are built on credit. They provide more money than they have hoped for a future return. This is a large contributor to human progress.

Lone Individual

Individual needs are now satisfied by state and organizations instead of family and community.

  • If you want money, you can take a loan.
  • if you want an education you go to school.
  • if you are unemployed there are un-employment schemes.
  • if you are old, there are retirement schemes.


Humans have transcended genetic boundaries.

  • We learn faster and adapt quicker. Unlike other animals whose genes dictate what they do.
  • We have created medicines and technologies that far exceed and extend our natural limitations.


  1. A band of good communication sapiens of 500 could beat Neanderthals with a pack of 5 times more.
  2. Gossip is natural to us. Gossip conveys important information like who to avoid, what to do, what not to do, etc which helps us be safe.

Peace in our time

  1. Humans have been safer than ever. And we seem to be moving towards more peace.
  2. Compared to history, the decolonization of colonies has been relatively peaceful. Everyone seems to be tired of war.


Biology is always changing. It is never constant or fixed. If you go by this line of thinking, more than human 2 genders are possible and biology won’t have any problem with it.

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