"It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream-making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise,, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. No, it is impossible, it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence-that which makes its truth, its meaning-its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream-alone".
------------- Joseph Conrad in "Heart of Darkness"

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Dec 13, 2015

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

It took a while to finish 'Sapiens: a brief history of humankind' (414 pages in total). Nonetheless I enjoyed reading it. I liked the subtitles, the basic outline of the book and the conversational writing style. At points I felt I am sitting in a gossip room. I still prefer Jared Diamonds intimate descriptions and academic approach to human evolution, and agriculture. But I like the later chapters of 'Sapiens' which deal with role of the Empires in history, economy and technology. If you happen to be an expert or scholar in a certain field you feel like the writer is sometimes doesn't really know how to compare facts supported by decades of research vs. whatever is popping out of the head of a layman. But, the scope of the book is vast and summarizes public domain knowledge from a range of disciplines for common readers. Overall it is a great book to read, and I would recommend it.
Some of my favorite one liners from the book.

" There is no way out of the imagined order. When we break down our prison walls and run towards freedom, we are in fact running into the more spacious exercise yard of a bigger prison."

"Not all people get the same chance to cultivate and refine their abilities. Wheather or not they have such an opportunity will usually depend on their place within their society's imagined order."

"All societies are based on imagined hierarchies, but not necessarily on the same hierarchies."
"Every point in history is a crossroads. A single travelled road leads from the past to the present, but myriads paths fork off into the future. Some of those paths are wider, smoother and better marked, and thus more likely to be taken, but sometimes history—or the people who make history-- takes unexpected turn."

"it is an iron rule of history that what looks inevitable in hindsight was far from obvious at the time. Today is no different."

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