Les­sons for our world

21 Les­sons for the 21st Cen­tury By Yu­val Noah Harari, Pen­guin Random House, $38

Manawatu Guardian - - BOOKS - — Linda Thomp­son

We live in dif­fi­cult times.

Yes, we ap­pear to have con­quered some big is­sues like plenty of killer dis­eases, tech­nol­ogy is leap­ing ahead and we can fly around the world in no time (even if it’s ex­haust­ing).

But now what? There’s still the con­stant threat of nu­clear war, en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues may prove our un­do­ing, and tech­nol­ogy may be rac­ing away faster than we can com­pre­hend it.

Harari has an in­ter­est­ing view, and it’s not a dif­fi­cult read. An Is­raeli aca­demic, he has writ­ten a cou­ple of best­sellers about hu­man his­tory much praised by peo­ple like Barack Obama and Mark Zucker­berg. Now he takes a look at our present. He analy­ses tech­nol­ogy — what it will mean for jobs, how Big Data is watch­ing us. He dis­cusses pol­i­tics, re­li­gion and sec­u­lar­ism. He urges us not to panic about ter­ror­ism, and puts it into per­spec­tive. Traf­fic ac­ci­dents have a higher death toll, he says.

There’s fake news, im­mi­gra­tion and how to stay sane in a con­stantly chang­ing world. There’s med­i­ta­tion and ed­u­ca­tion and sci­ence fic­tion.

It might sound weighty, but it’s not. Harari writes in an easy flow­ing read­able style. Dip in and out of this provoca­tive book and con­tem­plate.

Author Yu­val Noah Harari

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