STARRED REVIEW
September 2018

What is there to learn?

By Yuval Noah Harari

If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari, author of the critically praised Sapiens and Homo Deus, tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: “What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?”

Share this Article:

BookPage Top Pick in Nonfiction, September 2018

If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari, author of the critically praised Sapiens and Homo Deus, tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: “What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?”

For all the breadth of his concerns, Harari is able to distill the most pressing challenges facing our world down to three: nuclear war, ecological collapse and technological disruption, all of which together “add up to an unprecedented existential crisis.” He explains, for example, how this century will see the development of evermore sophisticated algorithms that will alter everything from the way we work (or don’t, in complex future economies that won’t require many people’s labor) to the way we organize and conduct our political lives.

These trends will unfold in a world that clings to what are, in Harari’s opinion, already outdated notions of nationalism and religious belief, which will inevitably create tension and conflict. But Harari doesn’t ignore our current controversies. His concise essays on terrorism and immigration are examples of the fresh thinking he brings to any subject.

Harari makes a passionate argument for reshaping our educational systems and replacing our current emphasis on quickly outdated substantive knowledge with the “four Cs”—critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. In the book’s final piece, Harari argues that the practice of meditation, something he does for two hours daily, offers a productive tool for understanding the human mind. Meditator or not, thoughtful readers will find 21 Lessons for the 21st Century to be a mind-expanding experience.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

By Yuval Noah Harari
Spiegel & Grau
ISBN 9780525512172

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!