Posted on: March 16, 2021 Posted by: Stuti Shiva Comments: 0
Book Review

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Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2

Do not be alarmed my readers , it’s the 16th of March today, the ides of March was yesterday, but I compare the author Mr. Yuval Noah Harari to the soothsayer who rings the alarm bells to wake us up ~ us, Homo sapiens from our slumber and take stock of things going around us on a global scale.

The previous two books by Mr Harari~ Sapiens, which showed us where we came from. Homo Deus, which lookes at the future, but 21 Lessons for the 21st century explores the present. The questions is: “Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created?”


The book is a revelation of sorts. With the world of 7 billion people with 7 billion agendas~ thinking about the big picture is a rare luxury. We all have pressing issues, our day to day problems, but we cannot ignor global issues~such as climate change or crisis of liberal democracy and carry on thinking it will not effect our lives~ cause eventually global warming will make the Mumbai slums uninhabitable, send enormous waves of refugees across Mediterranean, and lead to a world wide crisis in healthcare~ which we are already witnessing first hand with the spread of the Covid pandemic which has raised its ugly head and refuses to bow down.

The book covers different aspects of global predicaments~

What is happening in the world today and what is the deep meaning of the events?

What does rise and fall of Donald Trump signifies?

Why is the liberal democracy in crisis?

Is God back?

Is a new World War coming?

Which civilisation dominates the world~the West, China, Islam?

Should Europe keep its door open to Immigrants?

Can Nationalism solve the problem of inequality and climate change?

The above mentioned issues have a connection to the internal lives of individuals. Our daily routine influences the lives of people and animals half way across the world, and seemingly isolated personal gestures can unexpectedly set the entire world ablaze ~ the so called butterfly effect ~ for instance self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, ignited the Arab Spring and with the women who shared their stories of sexual harassment sparked the #MeToo movement.

Key message

The book starts with the current political and technological predicaments. With the end of the twentieth century the ideological shift took place from fascism and communism to liberalism, which resulted in democratic politics, human rights and free~market capitalism. However nothing lasts for ever and now liberalism is in a jam . So where are we heading? This puts the whole human race in a jeopardy as information technologies and biotechnologies confronts us with even bigger challenges our species has ever encountered. It threatens the very fibre of our social structure where billions of humans could find themselves out of the job market.

Big Data Algorithms might create digital dictatorship in which all the power will be concentrated in the hands of few elite and most people will have a fate worse than being exploited ~ irrelevance and redundancy.

The book is divided into five parts ~ each covers an area which highlights the threats and dangers. The first part deals with the impact of new technologies.

In the second part, the book examines a wide range of setups like communities, civilisation, nationalism, religion, and immigration.

The third part talks about the menace of terrorism, and the dangers of global war, about the biases and hatred that sparks such conflicts.

The fourth part engages with notion of post truth. Are we still capable of distinguishing between wrong doing from justice.

The fifth and the final part the author gets all the threads together and takes a more general look at life in an age of bewilderment. Questions life ~ what should we do in life? What kind of skills do we need ? What is the meaning of life today?


We have to wake up to what is happening around us. We cannot ignore anymore the global dimension of our personal lives and it is more important than ever to uncover religion and political biases, our racial and gender privileges and our unwitting complicity in institutional oppression. Homo sapiens can’t wait . Philosophy, religion, and science is running out of time . The looming ecological crisis, the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction, the use of new disruptive technologies will not allow it. Perhaps the most important, artificial Intelligence and biotechnologies are giving humanity the power to reshape and re~engineer human life.

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