About the book

A powerful story can save the world – or destroy it. It can decide elections, save lives, but also start wars and entrench injustice. Based on influential narratives from antiquity to the present, Samira El Ouassil and Friedemann Karig trace this ambivalent power – and show which stories are dangerous to us today and why we need new ones.

Jury evaluation

Humans are animals capable of telling stories. They transform the jumble of their experiences into coherent stories with a beginning, an aim and an end. This ability not only saved the life of the storyteller Scheherazade, but also gave Homo sapiens a distinct evolutionary advantage. From Adam and Eve to QAnon, from Homer to Hollywood, we find universal narratives that give meaning to the world and form collective identities – but that also shape our images of the enemy and justify wars. Criss-crossing through the ages, El Ouassil and Karig trace this phenomenon and, vividly and with edifying enthusiasm, describe how it continues to function today.

Samira El Ouassil

Samira El Ouassil, born in Munich in 1984, is a German author, actress, musician and politician. Since September 2018, she has been writing the column “Wochenschau” for the online portal Übermedien. She has been hosting the philosophical Audible podcast “Sag niemals Nietzsche” with Christiane Stenger since 2019 and writing an online column for Der Spiegel since 2020. Also since 2020, she has been hosting the podcast “Piratensender Powerplay” with Friedemann Karig. El Ouassil is the singer of the band Kummer and a member of the Verein Mensa (Mensa association).

Friedemann Karig

Friedemann Karig, born in 1982, studied media science, politics, sociology and economics and writes for Süddeutsche Zeitung, SZ-Magazin, Die Zeit and jetzt, among others. He hosted the Grimme Award-nominated “Jäger&Sammler” (Hunters & Collectors), created by funk, the online youth channel of ARD and ZDF. After publishing “Wie wir lieben. Vom Ende der Monogamie” (How We Love. On the End of Monogamy) in 2017, he made his literary debut with “Dschungel” (Jungle). Karig lives in Berlin and Munich.


Logo Stiftung Buchkultur und Leseförderung des Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

Main Supporter

Logo Deutsche Bank Stiftung


Logo Humboldt Forum