Dominic Sandbrook at Literary Review:
Framed as a book of ‘lessons’, his new work seems obviously inspired by such bestsellers as Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. In the acknowledgements, he explains that he wrote it ‘in conversation with the public’, since many of the chapters originated in answer to ‘questions I was asked by readers, journalists and colleagues’. If somebody asks Harari a question, and he then gives a 5,000-word answer, does that genuinely count as a ‘conversation’? In any case, it would surely be more accurate, as well as less pretentious, to describe it as a compilation of previously published articles, many of which appeared in the Financial Times and The Guardian and on Bloomberg View.
That gives a good indication of the tone. This book’s natural habitat is the airport bookshop, its natural reader the ambitious businessman who has a four-hour flight ahead of him but has forgotten his charger. No doubt that sounds a bit sniffy. I suppose it is meant to, because 21 Lessons strikes me as almost completely worthless.