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21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Written by: Yuval Noah Harari
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,278 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number One New York Times Best Seller

In Sapiens, he explored our past. In Homo Deus, he looked to our future. Now, one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet turns to the present to make sense of today’s most pressing issues.

"Fascinating...a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the twenty-first century." (Bill Gates, The New York Times Book Review)

Named one of the best books of the year by Financial Times and Pamela Paul, KQED.  

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In 21 accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential listening.

"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...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?'" (BookPage, top pick)

©2018 Yuval Noah Harari (P)2018 Signal

What the critics say

“Truly mind-expanding...Ultra-topical...Harari’s big selling point [is] the ambition and breadth of his work, smashing together unexpected ideas into dazzling observations.” (The Guardian)

“This well-informed and searching book is one to be savored and widely discussed.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

“Erudite, illuminating, vivid. [Harari’s] lessons suggest new ways of thinking about current problems...a splendid, sobering, stirring call to arms.” (Sunday Times)
 

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

Eloquent & insightful, yet lacking in direction

I respect Harari's work a lot. He's triggering conversations we should all be having.

To me, it felt like these 21 lessons were more insights than actual, actionable lessons. Some chapters showed more direction than others though, which is what I was expecting to find coming into this book. The chapter on terrorism, for instance, really struck a chord with me.

Overall, Harari strongly and rightly criticises our current "story" (liberalism/humanism), yet doesn't quite offer a cohesive, compelling alternative.

Maybe he wants us to make our own decisions as to where to go next? I'm not sure.

Most of the insights in there could have been extracted from Harari's two previous books with relative ease. It doesn't mean there isn't value in rehashing and reformatting them, just that novelty isn't fully on the menu.

If you're not familiar with Harari's work, I think you'll enjoy this book even more. It's a solid entry point into his meta, long-term view of the human race.

In any case, it is definitely worth your time and thoughts! 🙇

9 people found this helpful

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Harari’s Books are a delight

If you have been following Yuval Noah Harari’s work, you will not be disappointed. He still delivers the same experience, knowledge and insight.

If you are new to his work, I recommend this to read first and then go to Sapiens and Homo Deus.

7 people found this helpful

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21?

I'm not sure where the 21 lessons are. I'm several chapters in, and the book is really about AI and jobs for the most part. The author seems to speak to the same ideas over and over again coming back to artificial intelligence, big data and biotech.

4 people found this helpful

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Ok

A broad overview that could have had a little more depth. The narrator was fantastic as usual.

1 person found this helpful

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having a hard time buying these arguments

I imagine these were entertaining speculations in a grad seminar, but as a uniform thesis about the state of the world and our future direction, this book just seems weak and uninspiring/uninspired. I found the prognostications to be unconvincing, incomplete and selective. Had much higher expectations.

7 people found this helpful

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dreadful ramble with no useful solutions

Harari's book is a labyrinth of arguments and counter arguments drowning in the web of 1st world biotechinfoteck mumbo jumbo. The planet earth is a very big place, with vibrant cultures not hooked to shallow narcissistic social media. People eat, dance, celebrate festivals together...and live without Zuckerberg's ether community. Nor are they looking to algirythms to help them make decisions. Written by someone who spends his life inside first world tech cocoons. Harari, it seems, has fallen victim to his own concepts and algorythms and writes from inside his silo, a dark and very narrow place. Suffocating book.

13 people found this helpful

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Amazing book.

#Audible1
I have finished first two chapters and will update with more detail review. I am fasinated by how he exaplain the theories. cant wait to finish the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Very interesting book .. highly recommended.

Very interesting book. It stimulates intellectual thinking and discusses ideas rather than giving answers. I throughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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Strong Rationale Narrative in Harari's Books

I love big picture and objective thinking and can only conclude that that Harari is excellent at creating a big picture narrative of the journey that we are on as a species. I read three of his books in succession: Sapiens, Homo Deus and then 21 Lessons. As a result of reading all 3, I believe that I had a good understanding and level of absorption of the big picture ideas that he creates to set the context for 21 Lessons. As a result I enjoyed the more pragmatic prescriptions in 21 Lessons. I also appreciate that he does not prescribe a single view of the world and generally does not impose his ideas on the reader. He effectively challenges our critical reasoning capacities and allows for some dissent by the reader.

I love the writing style and the overall substance of Harari's books. Having listened to him being interviewed (Youtube, etc) I would have much preferred if he had narrated the books himself. His accent and the "age" of his voice would have made the ideas fit the audio. The sound of Derek Perkins voice (British accent, etc) does not seem to match the content - according to my ears!

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BS Vending 101

Sapiens was good, but this is the standard of useless speculative nonsense I haven't encountered in a while.

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  • PDubya
  • 2018-12-16

Eye-opening Listen

At first, I was ready to return this book...then I gave it a chance and was solidly hooked. The premises that are proposed Harari are all around us - he presents the "what ifs" and the "think about that" that make you look at everything in a new way. What is revealed is that we live in a complicated and at times scary world. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 2020-02-27

Fantastic

These books by Harari, (this one, Sapiens, and Homo Deus) are the type of books that are referenced in history as the starting point or inspiration for world changing leaders

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  • Robert
  • 2020-01-30

Over-rated and celebrated

The author makes up what he claims are commonly held assumptions about the world then dismantles them. Nice writing exercise but it ends up being a well written dismantling of nothing.

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  • Sasa
  • 2019-08-02

excellent, dynamic, entertaining

excellent, dynamic, entertaining
not all of the Expanse books are at the same level, but this one is one of the best

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  • brent
  • 2019-05-18

A rant on meditation

The first couple chapters were good but then it became a bit of a rant on all things organized (government, science, religion)

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  • BryinSiam
  • 2018-10-11

Meandering

Doesn't hold a candle to his two previous books. Derivative. Better to read Prefiction Machines and other analyses of our day. Even Stephen Harper s book Right Here and Now

1 person found this helpful