“Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2: The Pillars of Civilization (Sapiens: A Graphic History, 2)” by Yuval Noah Harari— The Agricultural Revolution

Harari, Yuval Noah. “Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2: The Pillars of Civilization (Sapiens: A Graphic History, 2)”,  Harper Perennial, 2021.

The Agricultural Revolution

Amos Lassen

This is the second volume of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Graphic Historyand it is the full-color graphic adaptation his bestseller. The focus is on the Agricultural Revolution when humans worked harder with diminishing returns.

Using the supposition that war, plague, famine and inequality began 12,000 years ago when Homo sapiens changed from nomads to settlers seeking productivity and efficiency, we question whether they were attempting to control plants and animals. They ended up being controlled by kings, priests, and bureaucracy. Harari explores how wheat took over the world; how a union between a god and a bureaucrat created the first empires; and how war, plague, famine, and inequality became a feature of the human condition.

The characters from volume 1— Yuval, Zoe, Professor Saraswati, Cindy and Bill (now farmers), Detective Lopez, and Dr. Fiction return and investigate the impact the Agricultural Revolution has had on our humankind. We see how Mephisto shows them how to trap humans, King Hammurabi sets the law, and Confucius explains the meaning and importance of harmonious society. Modern farming is introduced through Elizabethan tragedy; we see the fate of domesticated plants and animals as tracked in the columns of the Daily Business News; urbanization is seen as a travel brochure and the history of inequality is related as a superhero detective story. This is a radical retelling of the story of humankind for adults and young adults.