This is one of those rare books which is superbly written, intelligent and mind-altering. I am convinced by this author's arguments and my view of the human condition has changed permanently.
I thought this would be a book that would delve lavishly in later human evolution, but it is does not. It discusses it briefly and moves on, concentrating its effort on the times of agricultural revolution and forward. It is a masterpiece of anthropology.
"Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. One the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As times went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as United States and Google."
"Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persits, the imagined reality exerts force in the world. [...] Most millionaires sincerely believe in the existence of money and limited liability of companies. Most human-rights activists sincerely believe in the existence of human rights."
I have never considered the extent of the imagined reality we all live in before. I have never equated my belief in human rights with the belief in Vishnu, or considered that a corporation too is all in our collective heads.
The author moves on through history and gives plenty of new perspectives on events.
"Most people today successfully live up to the capitalist-consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on the condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money, and that the masses give free rein to their cravings and passions - and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How, though, do we know that we'll get paradise in return? We've seen it on television."
These are just a few tidbits of insight and perspective. I absolutely loved this book! Highly recommended to anyone curious about the human condition.