Book Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - Yuval Noah Harari


Yuval Noah Harari's third book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is an interesting look at 21 topics where we humans can improve. The lessons are grouped into 5 categories; The Technology Challenge, The Political Challenge, Despair and Hope, Truth, and Resilience. The subject matter for the first part of the book is tough reading. Harari takes a cold and calculating look at the societal organisations and structures that humans have created, from religion all the way up to modern day terrorism, before looking at how the species can be resilient in the face of these challenges.

His writing within each topic flows easily, using the same witty but precise wordsmithing that we saw in Sapiens and Homo Deus, however alot of the discussion on the topics seem to end abruptly without much feeling of resolution or satisfaction. Perhaps that is intentional, given the gravity of some of the material, as well as the presentation of the final group of topics which cover areas such as education and meaning, where work can be done to allow humans to overcome the many challenges.

Where his previous book Sapiens gives us a brief history of humankind, and Homo Deus tracks where the species can progress towards, this book seems to fit inbetween both, a mapcheck moment where humankind need to take stock and maybe make some hard choices to ensure an easier life for the generations to come.

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