Nav­i­gat­ing ur­gent is­sues for sur­vival

His­to­rian’s stim­u­lat­ing jour­ney through dis­rup­tive change

Pretoria News - - Lifestyle - 21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CEN­TURY Yu­val Noah Harari (R235) JONATHAN CA­PER RE­VIEWER: JU­LIAN RICHFIELD

YU­VAL Harari’s first two books, and were in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed, de­servedly so.

In he sur­veyed the hu­man past, ex­am­in­ing how an in­signif­i­cant ape be­came ruler of the planet Earth. While in

Harari ex­plored the long-term fu­ture of life, con­tem­plat­ing how hu­mans might even­tu­ally be­come gods, and what might be the ul­ti­mate destiny of in­tel­li­gence and con­scious­ness.

In my re­view of (Cape Times, Novem­ber 4, 2016) I asked: ”It is as­ton­ish­ing that Harari, at a lit­tle over 40, has had time to pro­duce two such pro­found ma­jor works. One won­ders what next he will share with us?”

The an­swer is his new book,

In it he asks how can we pro­tect our­selves from nu­clear war, eco­log­i­cal cat­a­clysms, and tech­no­log­i­cal dis­rup­tions? What can we do about the epi­demic of fake news or the threat of ter­ror­ism? What should we teach our chil­dren?

Harari takes us on a thrilling and thought-pro­vok­ing jour­ney through to­day’s most ur­gent is­sues. The golden thread run­ning through the book is the chal­lenge of main­tain­ing our col­lec­tive and in­di­vid­ual fo­cus in the face of con­stant and dis­ori­ent­ing change.

“Of course 7 bil­lion peo­ple have 7 bil­lion agen­das, and think­ing about the big pic­ture is a rel­a­tively rare lux­ury. My agenda here is global. I look at the ma­jor forces that shape so­ci­eties all over the world, and that are likely to in­flu­ence the fu­ture of our planet as a whole. Re­al­ity is com­posed of many threads, and this book tries to cover dif­fer­ent as­pects of our global predica­ment, with­out claim­ing to be ex­haus­tive.” is not an aca­demic text­book, as fine a brain as Harari ob­vi­ously pos­sesses, he is a su­perb com­mu­ni­ca­tor as well. He has the abil­ity to dis­cuss some­times lofty sub­jects in a clear and un­der­stand­able way.

As in his first two books, al­most each and ev­ery page will of­fer a sen­tence that re­quires thought. An ex­am­ple: “Whereas the ma­jor move­ments of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury all had a vi­sion for the en­tire hu­man species – be it global dom­i­na­tion, rev­o­lu­tion or lib­er­a­tion – Don­ald Trump of­fers no such thing. His main mes­sage is that it’s not Amer­ica’s job to for­mu­late and pro­mote any global vi­sion.” We live in a world where tak­ing of­fence and um­brage at al­most ev­ery­thing is a global phe­nom­e­non. Those who par­take in this will have a field day at much of what Harari gives us in this book. Bully for them.

I found

hugely stim­u­lat­ing, and it is a book that I just know I will want to read again and again.

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