21 Lessons for the 21st Century - 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Author Yuval Noah Harari
Country Israel
Language English
Subject Civilization
Technology and civilization
Human beings
Publisher Spiegel & Grau, Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Published in English
30 August 2018
Pages 372
ISBN 978-198-480-149-4
Preceded by Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a book written by bestseller Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari and published in August 2018 by Spiegel & Grau[1] in the US and by Jonathan Cape[2] in the UK and dedicated to his husband, Itzik.

Having dealt with the distant past in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011) and with the distant future in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), Harari turns in 21 Lessons his attention to the present. In a loose collection of essays, many based on articles previously published,[3] he attempts to untangle the technological, political, social, and existential quandaries that humankind faces.

The book itself consists of five parts which are each made up of four or five essays.

Critical response

The review aggregator website Book Marks reported that 44% of critics gave the book a "rave" review, whilst 11% of the critics "panned" the book. The rest of the critics expressed either "positive" (22%) or "mixed" (22%) impressions, based on a sample of nine reviews.[4] The book has received significant media attention[citation needed] with articles and reviews published by The New York Times, The Economist,[5] Financial Times, The Guardian, New Statesman and The Times among others.

In The New York Times, Bill Gates calls the book “fascinating” and his author “such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed, I wanted to keep reading and thinking.” For Gates, Harari “has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century.”[6]

John Thornhill in Financial Times said that “[a]lthough 21 Lessons is lit up by flashes of intellectual adventure and literary verve, it is probably the least illuminating of the three books” written by Harari, and that many of the observations in it feel recycled from the two others.[7]

Helen Lewis review in The Guardian is not as glowing although she admires “the ambition and breadth of his work, smashing together unexpected ideas into dazzling observations.”[3]

The book has also received negative reviews. Gavin Jacobson in the New Statesman sees it as “a study thick with promise and thin in import” with advice “either too vague or too hollow to provide any meaningful guidance.” [8] In The Times, Gerard DeGroot writes: "The author of Sapiens is good at identifying the crises to come but his syrupy platitudes are no answer."[9]

Controversy with Russian translation

A Russian translation of Harari's book was published in June 2019. However, the Russian media noticed that several passages about Russia and its President Putin were excluded from the translation. In particular, the chapter about post-truth begins in the Russian edition with referring to Donald Trump's speeches instead of Putin's false statements during Russian annexation of Crimea.[10][11][12] The representatives of Harari admitted that this change was authorized.[13] Leonid Bershidsky in Moscow Times called it "caution — or, to call it by its proper name, cowardice",[14] and Nettanel Slyomovics in Haaretz claimed that Harari "is sacrificing those same liberal ideas that he presumes to represent".[15] In a response, Harari stated that he "was warned that due to these few examples Russian censorship will not allow distribution of a Russian translation of the book" and that he "therefore faced a dilemma," namely to "replace these few examples with other examples, and publish the book in Russia," or "change nothing, and publish nothing," and that he "preferred publishing, because Russia is a leading global power and it seemed important that the book’s ideas should reach readers in Russia, especially as the book is still very critical of the Putin regime – just without naming names." [16]

See also


  1. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah; Spiegel & Grau (2018). 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. ISBN 9780525512172.
  2. ^ Harari, Yuval Noah; Jonathan Cape (2018). 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. ISBN 9781787330672.
  3. ^ a b Lewis, Helen (15 August 2018). "21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari review – a guru for our times?". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  4. ^ "21 Lessons for the 21st Century". Book Marks. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Big data is reshaping humanity, says Yuval Noah Harari". The Economist. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  6. ^ Gates, Bill (4 September 2018). "What Are the Biggest Problems Facing Us in the 21st Century?". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  7. ^ Thornhill, John (10 August 2018). "Are humans too flawed to survive the 21st century?". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  8. ^ Jacobson, Gavin (22 August 2018). "Yuval Noah Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a banal and risible self-help book". The New Statesman. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  9. ^ DeGroot, Gerard (11 August 2018). "Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari — nuclear war? Let's meditate instead". The Times. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  10. ^ Plotkin, Yuval (23 July 2019). "Russia edition of book by famed Israeli author skips Putin criticism but slams Trump". Ynet. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  11. ^ Цой, Ива (22 July 2019). "В российском переводе книги о постправде поменяли Путина на Трампа, а оккупацию Крыма — на присоединение". The Insider (Russia). Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Историк Харари объяснил изменение фрагмента про Крым в российском переводе его книги". Ведомости (Russia). 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Изменения в российском издании книги Юваля Харари. Комментарии автора". NEWSru (Israel). 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  14. ^ Bershidsky, Leonid (24 July 2019). "Putin Gets Stronger When Creators Censor Themselves". Moscow Times. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  15. ^ Slyomovics, Nettanel (24 July 2019). "Yuval Noah Harari's Problem Is Much More Serious Than Self-censorship". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  16. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/yuval-noah-harari-responds-to-backlash-after-he-let-russia-censor-his-book-1.7576761