Today's recommendation will be 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, first published in 2018.

The long road ahead of us

We are barely one-quarter into the 21st century and even though there is more than 3/4 to go, almost everyone is aware of at least some of the whole lot of issues that society faced recently and is facing just now. The world has changed rapidly and that change is only accelerating, adding more and more complexity to our lifes. Both external factors, like climate and environment and internal developments like spreading nationalism or upcoming technology will change lifes; not only the lifes of our descendants but of todays population. This can be exciting, scary or confusing, but it concerns all of us. This book names 21 of the most relevant or crucial topics and tries to predict what will change, why it will change and tries to offer not solutions but hints at how we will have to adjust. So do not despair and have a read.

We need to rethink

Buzzwords like Pandemic, Climate Change, Immigration, Nationalism or Artificial Intelligence dominate the headlines a lot; we are annoyed, irritated, scared, worried or confused. That is partly, as Harari argues in one section, due to questionable biases of the media. But it is also because they are issues that heavily shape our lifes while lying largely out of our control as individuals. His take is that, to avert a societal crisis, we need to form a united and connected world society to tackle the big issues, by rethinking the role of work and income in our lifes, how we interconnect offline and online, how we let religion impact our decision making. How we react to terrorism and how we educate todays children. Reevaluate what unites our cultures, how we govern technology and so much more.

The book is divided into five parts with their respective chapters, and concern themselves with The Technological Challenge, The Political Challenge, Despair and Hope, Truth and Resilience. It is therefore very convenient to just read it “lesson by lesson” and in between dwell on the content, since a lot of the topics seem of too grave importance, to just read the book from cover to cover without spending ones own thoughts on the implications of the writings.

A synthesis

Yuval Noah Harari is not new to writing; very likely you have heard of one of his other works “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” or “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow”, in which he examined the human past and the human future. This book seems very much like a synthesis of those previous works; naturally a lot of concepts or ideas are being reintegrated in his new work and thereby more or less bringing his “trilogy on humans” to conclusion. He seems to speak with very much authority and while I am sure there is loads of valid critism to his ideas, many ring true to me personally.

This book is trying to predict and look into the future and therefore is in its very nature not a recital of facts. In the end, history will find its course and I am sure it is not gonna look just like Harari prophesied. But I think he proved with his previous works a fantastic ability to grasp and illustrate the most complex human developments and so this book at least opens up a conversation about what our future might look like. Definitely a recommended read!