Yuval Harari, What Is the Meaning of Life? - a podcast by ZEIT ONLINE

from 2020-10-22T08:30

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Historian and author Yuval Harari, one of the most influential intellectuals of our time, is our guest on the second English-language episode of "Alles gesagt?" ("Nuff Said?"), ZEIT's never-ending podcast. Harari's book, "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", was originally published in Hebrew in 2011 and is based on a series of 20 lectures from an undergraduate world history class he had taught. It has sold over 12 million copies and was in the top three of The "New York Times" bestseller list for 96 consecutive weeks. Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Angela Merkel, among others, are all admirers of Harari's work. In 2016 he wrote "Homo Deus", this time focussing on the future of humankind; his third book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, was published in 2018. Both have become international bestsellers. This week his latest book will be released: the graphic novel "Sapiens – The Birth of Humankind".

The hosts of "Alles gesagt?", Jochen Wegner and Christoph Amend (both based in Berlin) met with Yuval Harari, who lives in Tel Aviv, via video call on October 14th. (The session was also streamed live on ZEIT ONLINE.)Harari was born in 1975 near Haifa and studied in Jerusalem; he finished his PhD in Oxford with a focus on medieval military history and wrote his dissertation on "renaissance military memoirs of noblemen".

In this episode of our podcast Harari talks about a wide range of topics from religion to politics, Covid-19 to artificial intelligence; he describes spending weeks in a silent retreat, visiting a secret unit at Google and what it takes to become a bestseller writer. We hear what it was like growing up in a conservative Israeli family and realising he was gay at the age of 21, and how this personal experience has influenced the way he thinks about the world, human beings and history. At the end of this episode, Harari fact-checks key scenes of the show Game of Thrones and finally, after three hours and 44 minutes, he has nothing left to say. Because at "Alles gesagt?" the conversation is only over when the guest says it's over.

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