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Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 - The Pillars of Civilization

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This second volume of Sapiens: A Graphic History, the full-color graphic adaptation of Yuval Noah Harari’s #1 New York Times bestseller, focuses on the Agricultural Revolution—when humans fell into a trap we’ve yet to escape: working harder and harder with diminishing returns. What if humanity’s major woes—war, plague, famine and inequality—originated 12,000 years ago, when This second volume of Sapiens: A Graphic History, the full-color graphic adaptation of Yuval Noah Harari’s #1 New York Times bestseller, focuses on the Agricultural Revolution—when humans fell into a trap we’ve yet to escape: working harder and harder with diminishing returns. What if humanity’s major woes—war, plague, famine and inequality—originated 12,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens converted from nomads to settlers, in pursuit of the fantasy of productivity and efficiency? What if by seeking to control plants and animals, humans ended up being controlled by kings, priests, and Kafkaesque bureaucracy? Volume 2 of Sapiens: A Graphic History–The Pillars of Civilization explores a crucial chapter in human development: the Agricultural Revolution. This is the story of how wheat took over the world; how an unlikely marriage between a god and a bureaucrat created the first empires; and how war, plague, famine, and inequality became an intractable feature of the human condition. But it’s not all doom and gloom with this book’s cast of entertaining characters and colorful humorous scenes. Yuval, Zoe, Prof. Saraswati, Cindy and Bill (now farmers), Detective Lopez, and Dr. Fiction, all introduced in Volume 1, once again travel the length and breadth of human history, this time investigating the impact the Agricultural Revolution has had on our species. The cunning Mephisto shows them how to ensnare humans, King Hammurabi lays down the law, and Confucius explains harmonious society. The origins of modern farming are introduced through Elizabethan tragedy; the changing fortunes of domesticated plants and animals are tracked in the columns of the Daily Business News; the story of urbanization is portrayed as a travel brochure, offering discount journeys to ancient Babylon and China; and the history of inequality unfolds in a superhero detective story; with guest appearances by historical and cultural personalities throughout such as Thomas Jefferson, Scarlett O'Hara, Margaret Thatcher, and John Lennon. Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 is a radical, witty and colorful retelling of the story of humankind for adults and young adults, and can be read on its own or in sequence with Volume I.


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This second volume of Sapiens: A Graphic History, the full-color graphic adaptation of Yuval Noah Harari’s #1 New York Times bestseller, focuses on the Agricultural Revolution—when humans fell into a trap we’ve yet to escape: working harder and harder with diminishing returns. What if humanity’s major woes—war, plague, famine and inequality—originated 12,000 years ago, when This second volume of Sapiens: A Graphic History, the full-color graphic adaptation of Yuval Noah Harari’s #1 New York Times bestseller, focuses on the Agricultural Revolution—when humans fell into a trap we’ve yet to escape: working harder and harder with diminishing returns. What if humanity’s major woes—war, plague, famine and inequality—originated 12,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens converted from nomads to settlers, in pursuit of the fantasy of productivity and efficiency? What if by seeking to control plants and animals, humans ended up being controlled by kings, priests, and Kafkaesque bureaucracy? Volume 2 of Sapiens: A Graphic History–The Pillars of Civilization explores a crucial chapter in human development: the Agricultural Revolution. This is the story of how wheat took over the world; how an unlikely marriage between a god and a bureaucrat created the first empires; and how war, plague, famine, and inequality became an intractable feature of the human condition. But it’s not all doom and gloom with this book’s cast of entertaining characters and colorful humorous scenes. Yuval, Zoe, Prof. Saraswati, Cindy and Bill (now farmers), Detective Lopez, and Dr. Fiction, all introduced in Volume 1, once again travel the length and breadth of human history, this time investigating the impact the Agricultural Revolution has had on our species. The cunning Mephisto shows them how to ensnare humans, King Hammurabi lays down the law, and Confucius explains harmonious society. The origins of modern farming are introduced through Elizabethan tragedy; the changing fortunes of domesticated plants and animals are tracked in the columns of the Daily Business News; the story of urbanization is portrayed as a travel brochure, offering discount journeys to ancient Babylon and China; and the history of inequality unfolds in a superhero detective story; with guest appearances by historical and cultural personalities throughout such as Thomas Jefferson, Scarlett O'Hara, Margaret Thatcher, and John Lennon. Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 is a radical, witty and colorful retelling of the story of humankind for adults and young adults, and can be read on its own or in sequence with Volume I.

30 review for Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 - The Pillars of Civilization

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erikka

    I feel like this one was a bit less history and a bit more sociology and cultural theories. I didn't care for it quite as much. I did appreciate the part about how human society is organized by a slew of complex fictions. That was an incredible window into society and how it operates and I think it's changed how I view societal rules and orders. I'm excited about part three and hope it's more historical and anthropology based like volume one. I feel like this one was a bit less history and a bit more sociology and cultural theories. I didn't care for it quite as much. I did appreciate the part about how human society is organized by a slew of complex fictions. That was an incredible window into society and how it operates and I think it's changed how I view societal rules and orders. I'm excited about part three and hope it's more historical and anthropology based like volume one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    The Agricultural Revolution really kicks humanity down the slippery slope to tangled bureaucracy, hegemony of the elites, classism, racism, and sexism. Wheat is the ultimate big bad! Harari and his collaborators really dig deep into the fictions upon which our history and our present social order is constructed, ripping away the pseudoscience and myths to get at what the science really supports. Not as mind-blowing as the first volume -- which motivated me to read the big book from which this seri The Agricultural Revolution really kicks humanity down the slippery slope to tangled bureaucracy, hegemony of the elites, classism, racism, and sexism. Wheat is the ultimate big bad! Harari and his collaborators really dig deep into the fictions upon which our history and our present social order is constructed, ripping away the pseudoscience and myths to get at what the science really supports. Not as mind-blowing as the first volume -- which motivated me to read the big book from which this series is adapted -- but still very good even if the lessons seem a little more repetitive and simplified. A lot of time is spent on the Hindu caste system and U.S. slavery, making me a little curious how the Israeli author would apply some of his reasoning and deconstruction to the current state of his nation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Adams

    So much information packed into graphic novel format. Would recommend going through this slowly to absorb everything. As with the first, makes me want to read/listen to the original text. 3.5 Thanks to NetGalley/Edelweiss and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Harari considers himself a philosopher as well as a historian, and Volume 2 of this excellent series is mostly philosophy. The idea is that individual human lives became more miserable during and after the agricultural revolution, even as that revolution meant there were a lot more human lives brought into existence than hunter-gatherer societies could ever have supported. His logic leaves me unconvinced, but it's interesting to think about. Harari considers himself a philosopher as well as a historian, and Volume 2 of this excellent series is mostly philosophy. The idea is that individual human lives became more miserable during and after the agricultural revolution, even as that revolution meant there were a lot more human lives brought into existence than hunter-gatherer societies could ever have supported. His logic leaves me unconvinced, but it's interesting to think about.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pratik Sarkar

    Just completed the second installment of the graphic adaptation of Sapiens. Being a sincere admirer of Harari's writing style, I was eagerly waiting for the book. Although based on the bestselling book, the graphic team took its creative freedom to make it even better. It should also be noted that while the first part was largely based on archeological & anthropological findings, this book is more rooted in sociology, philosophy and history. Around 12000 BCE, bands of Sapiens, settled in differe Just completed the second installment of the graphic adaptation of Sapiens. Being a sincere admirer of Harari's writing style, I was eagerly waiting for the book. Although based on the bestselling book, the graphic team took its creative freedom to make it even better. It should also be noted that while the first part was largely based on archeological & anthropological findings, this book is more rooted in sociology, philosophy and history. Around 12000 BCE, bands of Sapiens, settled in different part of the earth, independently discovered farming to achieve food security. This 'agricultural revolution' completely transformed the interaction between humans and nature, male and female and between pastoralist and agriculturists. The book is split into 4 parts Little crop of horrors Of myths and men Into the labyrinth The cabinet of Doctor Fiction This book also features several popular historical figures like Thomas Jefferson, Margaret Thatcher, Franz Kafka, John Lenon as characters. The main protagonists Dr Saraswati, Harari himself, Joey, Detective Lopez are also present from the first installment. They sometime switch timeline and interact with the historical figures. The caste inequality of India and the racial inequality of the USA are elaborately described and analyzed. Harari showed how religion and science were evoked to justify the discrimination. Harari's support for feminism and veganism is also reflected in this book. The book is hardbound, colorful, tad bit heavy and the quality of page is too good. Any lover of graphic novel and history would not want to miss this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dramapuppy

    Effectively expands on concepts introduced in the first volume, even if it isn’t quite as engaging. I really enjoyed the first book, but I didn’t agree with the significance it assigned to fictions, and I was confused by the way the author was using the term. This book delved much deeper into the concept of fictions and successfully convinced me of their importance. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the concept than I did after the first book, which introduced the concept as somet Effectively expands on concepts introduced in the first volume, even if it isn’t quite as engaging. I really enjoyed the first book, but I didn’t agree with the significance it assigned to fictions, and I was confused by the way the author was using the term. This book delved much deeper into the concept of fictions and successfully convinced me of their importance. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the concept than I did after the first book, which introduced the concept as something important without really explaining why. I thought about giving this book an extra star because of that, but I gave it the same rating I did the first because the first one kept my attention better. I’m not sure if the characters and framing devices were less interesting in this one or if I’m just less interested in the period of history it covers. Regardless, I continue to enjoy the series. I love it when nonfiction is approachable like this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

    Volume 1 covered a lot more "hard" history, while this one begins to get into the weeds a bit - and its success is hit or miss. Volume 1 covered a lot more "hard" history, while this one begins to get into the weeds a bit - and its success is hit or miss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Best takeaway in volume two of the series is that the Feminist Revolution changed the world without killing anybody.

  9. 5 out of 5

    R.J. Sorrento

    Informative graphic novel but not quite as strong as Volume 1. I also felt this book was more opinion-based than scientific. Overall, this graphic nonfiction series offers food for thought and poses many ideas and questions worth pondering and considering. Thank you to Harper Perennial for the gifted copy. This is my honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Đức Nhật

    21/07/2021: Hello Volume 2. Here go fucking go

  11. 4 out of 5

    hiaa123

    Volume 2 of Sapiens wasn't as engaging as the first for me. The first half of this graphic novel felt way too heavy-handed in its negative portrayal of the agricultural revolution. I got the point but it was getting too repetitive. I liked the second half of the novel much better when it dives into culture and the myths/fictions of society that result in inequalities and hierarchies. I'll probably still pick up Volume 3 and read until the end. Overall, it was a quick, easy read. Can't say that I Volume 2 of Sapiens wasn't as engaging as the first for me. The first half of this graphic novel felt way too heavy-handed in its negative portrayal of the agricultural revolution. I got the point but it was getting too repetitive. I liked the second half of the novel much better when it dives into culture and the myths/fictions of society that result in inequalities and hierarchies. I'll probably still pick up Volume 3 and read until the end. Overall, it was a quick, easy read. Can't say that I learned anything new exactly but it was a nice reminder about societal constructs. The agricultural revolution stuff was interesting but I was getting tired of being told how bad it was for humanity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David White

    In 2020, Yuval Noah Harari adapted his outstanding “Sapiens” into a unique graphic format, making key concepts even more accessible to both adults and young adults alike. Volume 1 told the story of “The Birth of Humankind”. Volume 2 - “The Pillars of Civilisation” is now available, and opens with the agricultural revolution. The author returns to a controversial point contained in the original “Sapiens” – the agricultural revolution actually made life more difficult for humans instead of easier. In 2020, Yuval Noah Harari adapted his outstanding “Sapiens” into a unique graphic format, making key concepts even more accessible to both adults and young adults alike. Volume 1 told the story of “The Birth of Humankind”. Volume 2 - “The Pillars of Civilisation” is now available, and opens with the agricultural revolution. The author returns to a controversial point contained in the original “Sapiens” – the agricultural revolution actually made life more difficult for humans instead of easier. The work involved tending to crops was far more challenging and difficult than the hunter gatherer lifestyle. The book suggests by extension the agricultural revolution brought famine (when crops failed and there were no alternatives) and chronic health issues. Rather than improved quality of life the agriculture revolution brought about a population explosion which meant there were more mouths to feed. Disease was more prevalent because farmers lived in crowded villages in close contact with lots of animals and waste products, so viruses could easily jump from a chicken to a person wipe out a whole village. The author is vegan, and he makes clear in the narration how brutal the raising of domesticated animals is for their meat and and dairy produce. Post the agricultural revolution despite all the black backbreaking work peasants hardly ever achieved the economic security they craved. Rulers and elites sprang up everywhere living after peasants surplus food and leaving them fairly enough to survive. History was made by very few people when everybody else ploughed fields and carries water buckets. The book later looks at how societies were able to become more complex - through use of “fictions”, myths and constructs. A fascinating look at how humans progressed from hunter-gathers to civilisation builders. I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Synoeca

    Harari, you fearless historian, how did you manage to grasp all these ideas and project them onto paper to come up with a work like «Sapiens»? This has shaken me, this has stunned me, this has filled me with awe! Where the first part focuses more on the history of how humankind came to be, the second part dives into the complex fabric and intertwined seams of the societies we live in. On the surface, there is nothing we haven’t read about—racism, the patriarchy, bureaucracy, discrimination and so Harari, you fearless historian, how did you manage to grasp all these ideas and project them onto paper to come up with a work like «Sapiens»? This has shaken me, this has stunned me, this has filled me with awe! Where the first part focuses more on the history of how humankind came to be, the second part dives into the complex fabric and intertwined seams of the societies we live in. On the surface, there is nothing we haven’t read about—racism, the patriarchy, bureaucracy, discrimination and so on—, but the vigor radiates from the way it’s depicted throughout this graphic novel; this story succeeds in clarifying difficult yet important subjects in such a nimble way! I admit that this wouldn’t be possible without leaving out details and certain parts of explanations, but it seems Harari does so very rarely, for historians tend to value the truth. The efficacy, the profoundness, the boldness—the concept in its whole—, it’s such a delight to read through! Through «Sapiens», the author proves himself to be a gallant knight of the Truth, undaunted to lay out the facts and fictions, some harsh realities of our social system and their—oh so important!—history; it’s only through understanding the history of things that one can improve the future (said someone probably at some time). I can only bring up admiration and awe for works like this, for masterpieces like Yuval Noah Harari’s «Sapiens».

  14. 5 out of 5

    LUCAS H. GOLDING

    Sapiens: A Graphic History vol 2 is lighter on the history aspect and definitely delves more into theory. So for those wanting the history this may not be the book for you. However, those of you that are fascinated by theory, this book has that. Mainly the story’s that humans tell other humans to get massive groups of people to believe in one cause. Until the cognitive revolution (about 70 thousand years age) there really is very little evidence of such a crazy concept. But all one would have to Sapiens: A Graphic History vol 2 is lighter on the history aspect and definitely delves more into theory. So for those wanting the history this may not be the book for you. However, those of you that are fascinated by theory, this book has that. Mainly the story’s that humans tell other humans to get massive groups of people to believe in one cause. Until the cognitive revolution (about 70 thousand years age) there really is very little evidence of such a crazy concept. But all one would have to do to see massive cooperation today is look around. Fictions are all around us. Literally, our entire economic structure is based on a human made fiction called Capitalism. Capitalism is not real, in the sense of it being biologically programmed into humans, it’s a fiction that we made up and millions of people believe in. It’s useful because we can use that fiction to buy and sell goods and services that we need and want from other human beings that also believe in Capitalism. It’s interesting to note that it’s not just Capitalism that a lot of people believe in, religion, sportsmanship, human rights, justice and politics are just a few radical ideas that have only come about recently in human history. These are all fictions as well. Some are productive, some are not so much. This book does a great job of exploring the idea of fictions and the stories that we humans are so good at telling and probably is one of the reasons that we became the dominant species of this planet.

  15. 4 out of 5

    sophia

    *5 stars Yuval Noah Harari keeps amazing me. His work is so beeautiful and life changing. He talks about history,philosophy,religion,race,feminism,sexuality in a way that’s so educational. Everybody should read these books, they make the world and society more interesting. Amazing, keep up with these amazing books Yuval!:)

  16. 4 out of 5

    emma ♖

    even more than the first book, 'the pillars of civilization' explained history by central themes and not strictly adhering to a chronically correct timeline which i thought to be quite fitting. it also conveys an important lesson about how our 'civilization' is a product of our collective imagination and we should never forget that. even more than the first book, 'the pillars of civilization' explained history by central themes and not strictly adhering to a chronically correct timeline which i thought to be quite fitting. it also conveys an important lesson about how our 'civilization' is a product of our collective imagination and we should never forget that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Siddhartha Jain

    Excellent continuation of part 1 graphic novel. The story continues on how humans evolved and moved to farming and then fictional stories that we have today. Recommended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Love this series and how it’s making anthropology for everyone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    jenna

    4.5 i loooooove these. i wish this volume focused more on history than anthropology (like in volume 1) but it was still thoroughly entertaining

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Crippen

    Mostly about the Agricultural Revolution, with a whole lot of current social commentary. It is odd to read such serious material in cartoon speech balloons, but fun!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Neha Mishra

    Absolutely Recommended!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Like Vol 1, this second volume is well written and informative, in an entertaining and easy to understand format. The two volumes are a good introduction to the historical evolution of the sapien species

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dahlia Straight

    Sapiens is a must read for all sapiens! Extraordinary.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

    Som egood points raised about the stories that we tell aech and believe. We can only really built great things if we cooperate.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Knight

    This little gem went straight on to pre-order after finishing book 1 last month. I am even more stoked that there is a 3rd book due out too! 😄 So in this awesome graphic novel we go through humankind’s journey to civilisation and the complications that have come with it. The first volume concentrated on evolution and our relationship with the planet and how we have destroyed whole ecosystems and adapted to settle in every corner of the globe. This one is more focused on our relationships with ours This little gem went straight on to pre-order after finishing book 1 last month. I am even more stoked that there is a 3rd book due out too! 😄 So in this awesome graphic novel we go through humankind’s journey to civilisation and the complications that have come with it. The first volume concentrated on evolution and our relationship with the planet and how we have destroyed whole ecosystems and adapted to settle in every corner of the globe. This one is more focused on our relationships with ourselves and social prejudices. Starting off with the agricultural revolution and understanding our relationships with domesticated animals, we are able to understand how we have become our own slaves. Touching on cultural fictions that have shaped humanities views on religion, sexual preferences, race and creed. It’s such an eye opening read and in such a fun format. If you haven’t yet I’d totally recommend giving these a read. There is also the novel Sapiens, which I also thoroughly enjoyed and it combines all the information of the 3 graphic novels.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Cuba

    This second volume of our illustrated story as a species is twice as ambitious, complex, and fun to read. I can't wait to read the third release scheduled for the end of the year. This second volume of our illustrated story as a species is twice as ambitious, complex, and fun to read. I can't wait to read the third release scheduled for the end of the year.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jannik Faierson

    "The pillars of civilization" is in every way as astonishing as the first part Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 1 - The Birth of Humankind. The authors are building upon the characters, storylines, and narrator style from the first part and apply them to a new era of humankind: The agricultural revolution and the rise of large-scale civilizations. With beautiful images, clever cultural references, and creative storytelling this graphic novel shows how it was in fact plants that domesticated hu "The pillars of civilization" is in every way as astonishing as the first part Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 1 - The Birth of Humankind. The authors are building upon the characters, storylines, and narrator style from the first part and apply them to a new era of humankind: The agricultural revolution and the rise of large-scale civilizations. With beautiful images, clever cultural references, and creative storytelling this graphic novel shows how it was in fact plants that domesticated humans and all the negative consequences arising from it. Furthermore, myths and fiction played a crucial role in the rise of civilizations, allowing large-scale cooperation but also oppression, inequality, and hierarchies. All those abstract concepts are illustrated with pictures, characters, and stories, which allows understanding on a different, much deeper level. My favorite Hararian idea of intersubjective realities is perfectly explained on two pages and is such a useful tool in many academic disciplines. Towards the end, the authors discuss the origins of caste, racism, and patriarchy. By the use of diverse characters and critical evaluations of historical sources (i.e. scientifically dismantling the first sentence of the Declarance of Independence), Harari convincingly shows that cultural divisions, hierarchies, and ideological systems are only stories that our ancestors dreamed up. However, people's fanatic beliefs can cause real and violent consequences. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get rid of myths and constructed realities. The only thing we can do is to replace them with something better. Therefore, today, it is our task to look back at history and come up with new stories to shape a better future. How can we do that? Harari and his coauthors give us an understanding of the past and all the formulas in this Graphic History series to do so.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nandini Karky

    Yet again, bowled over by this presentation of the mind-altering thoughts of this philosophy towards history. While the original 'Sapiens' appeals to your mind, this one appeals to your emotions, like a well-made movie and a great story. When I came across a page containing three panels talking about 'absolute truth', I felt it to be the very pulse of this book and a truth relevant for all time. "No human society has ever cornered the market on absolute truth..." "You want to know the truth? The t Yet again, bowled over by this presentation of the mind-altering thoughts of this philosophy towards history. While the original 'Sapiens' appeals to your mind, this one appeals to your emotions, like a well-made movie and a great story. When I came across a page containing three panels talking about 'absolute truth', I felt it to be the very pulse of this book and a truth relevant for all time. "No human society has ever cornered the market on absolute truth..." "You want to know the truth? The truth is that everything changes, people are never satisfied and all identities are fictional." "What it means to be Christian or Spanish or even a man or a woman depends on the stories people believe. It has changed many times in the past, and will keep changing in the future. You won't find the truth by killing people who disagree with you - you'll just sink into ignorance." And further down, found these lines I believe to be the course of action for all of us - "Those stories that have caused so much trouble... those beliefs that seem to be an unshakeable part of who you are... we only need to ask one question of these stories - 'who is it hurting?' and listen to them". To all the fictions humans have created and often believe as inviolable truths, can we rise up and ask at least now, this little question? I think this book should be gifted to every child you know, anywhere in the world, so that they grow up, dispelling the smog of myth as soon as they learn to wave; so that they can step away from what doesn't serve the good of humanity, as soon as they can learn to walk.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dan Brigman

    Volume 1 of Sapiens’ graphic history was released in the last year, and it was excellent. Vol 2 doesn’t disappoint. It has two main topics: the agrarian revolution and the idea that human-created myths pull society together, sometimes more than we care to admit to. Without myths, though, we have no cohesive society. Intersubjectivity is a critical thought in this volume insofar that humans share mutual trusts, such as money, religion, etc. Myths can be changed to the betterment of society, in gen Volume 1 of Sapiens’ graphic history was released in the last year, and it was excellent. Vol 2 doesn’t disappoint. It has two main topics: the agrarian revolution and the idea that human-created myths pull society together, sometimes more than we care to admit to. Without myths, though, we have no cohesive society. Intersubjectivity is a critical thought in this volume insofar that humans share mutual trusts, such as money, religion, etc. Myths can be changed to the betterment of society, in general, such as the feminist movement over the last 100 years. No wars were fought, for example, yet a hugely positive change occurred. Harari goes into several other myths, but I’ll let you check out the volume for yourself. The best things about these volumes: the graphic novel format and the larger paper size. It is easy to hold in your hands, and the artwork, while not exceptional, offers a clear picture of what is being discussed, which is all that is necessary. Highly recommended.

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