Book Review – 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari
Book: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Year of Release: 2018
Read 339-page paperback edition in February 2021
In his third book, Harari focuses on the present, and expectations we will face as homo sapiens in the 21st century. The 21 chapters provide that many lessons on an array of topics. Readers of his prior works will be familiar with some of the discussion around artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and information technology advances. Harari goes further however to explore what the human species really is, and how we will evolve over this century, and what it means for how we adapt to life.
The book looks at economy, politics, religion, technology, and the meaning of life, and how all of this will continually evolve and change over the 21st century. How can we prepare as individuals in this ever changing world?
As with his prior books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, Harari has done a masterful job with 21 Lessons. This book is very engaging, with strong scientific analysis and persuasive arguments of what the world is and will be in the 21st century.
Harari has done a great job organizing this into 21 chapters that are bite-sized, but nicely linked from one chapter to the next. He closes each chapter nicely summarizing his points and then linking it directly to what the next chapter will be exploring. The result is a digestible, understandable format for the reader.
Harari does a great job exploring a range of critical topics and using a variety of examples to make his points. Chapters are on a variety of diverse subjects, from Religion to Big Data to Meaning to Science Fiction, and many more in between. The majority of them give the reader reason to pause and consider the ramifications of these subjects on the world around us, and on our own lives. This is the hallmark of a well-written book in this field.
My one dissatisfaction in the book is that Harari spends a lot of time focusing on all the problems and concerns for the 21st century. There are often not satisfying solutions or even suggestions of solutions to the various risks and concerns we will be facing. To be fair, I don’t know what they are, and it is a tall order to ask for all the answers here. The book is a great analysis of challenges, risks, and concerns, and at times some solutions and ideas to solve them are provided. I just wish more of them were provided at key points.
Overall though, this is a fantastic book by Harari, and like his other books, they are thought-provoking, insightful, and timely for the inquisitive reader who wants to understand our species and our world.
Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars