Tag Archives: authors

Best History Book Ever: Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari

Everyone should read this book. Its full title is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and it is exactly that, but it also somehow manages to be both a work of philosophy and a very entertaining read.

Harari writes with a clarity and wit rarely seen in academic writing, or any kind of non-fiction. Reading it is a delight, but that is not the main reason why you should do so.

Even if it were a struggle to wade through, it would be worth it for the content. In this book, millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of human history are analyzed, organized, and woven into a fully comprehensible tapestry, enhanced by an original perspective.

Multiple times, during the course of reading Sapiens, I found myself thinking, or even saying to someone nearby, “I guess I knew that, but I never looked at it quite that way.”

If you, like me, are a devoted fan of history, this book won’t provide you with much new information, but it will give you a new perspective on what you know. If you think history is boring and history books are unbearably dry, this one will very likely change your mind.

In any case, every human should have some idea of what the history of humanity has been, and this is by far the best overview I have ever seen. If you read every new history book, or if you have never read even one, read this one!

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Kimberly Kalaja’s Night Moths on the Wing

I keep thinking about a play I saw performed nearly a month ago, at the OC-Centric New Play Festival. It is called Night Moths on the Wing, and it was written by Kimberly Kalaja, a playwright originally from California but now based in New York.

The plot revolves around a prisoner of war and his guards and interrogators, and it does contain surprise twists, and funny moments as well as frightening ones, but it’s not the plot that I keep thinking about. It’s the way the play explores questions of loyalty and trust, and of deceit and manipulation.

Maybe it’s because those are the themes being so relentlessly thrust upon us during this election season. Every day there are new articles written and discussed concerning whether or not the candidates are worthy of voters’ trust, and what they may or may not have lied about and why.

Through dialogue that is by turns amusing and arresting, Kalaja demonstrates how easily and how thoroughly people can mislead each other, and how vehemently they can hold on to beliefs they’ve been fooled into having. The play is a compact and compelling examination of two fundamental questions: who is trustworthy, and what is true.

They are questions that we all could stand to examine a bit more closely, and works of art such as this play can aid in that process. It has certainly had that effect on me.

Wherever you are, if you have the opportunity to see Night Moths on the Wing, or anything by the eloquent and thought-provoking Kimberly Kalaja, I recommend you take advantage of it.

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