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Debt: The First 5,000 Years Hardcover – Jul 12 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (July 12 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633862
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 780 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Winner of the Bateson Book Prize awarded by the Society for Cultural Anthropology

“One of the year’s most influential books. Graeber situates the emergence of credit within the rise of class society, the destruction of societies based on ‘webs of mutual commitment’ and the constantly implied threat of physical violence that lies behind all social relations based on money.” —Paul Mason, The Guardian

 “The book is more readable and entertaining than I can indicate... It is a meditation on debt, tribute, gifts, religion and the false history of money. Graeber is a scholarly researcher, an activist and a public intellectual. His field is the whole history of social and economic transactions.” Peter Carey, The Observer

"An alternate history of the rise of money and markets, a sprawling, erudite, provocative work."
Drake Bennett, Bloomberg Businessweek

"[A]n engaging book. Part anthropological history and part provocative political argument, it's a useful corrective to what passes for contemporary conversation about debt and the economy."
Jesse Singal, Boston Globe

"Fresh... fascinating... Graeber’s book is not just thought-provoking, but also exceedingly timely."
Gillian Tett, Financial Times (London)

"Terrific... In the best anthropological tradition, he helps us reset our everyday ideas by exploring history and other civilizations, then boomeranging back to render our own world strange, and more open to change."
Raj Patel, The Globe and Mail

"Graeber's book has forced me to completely reevaluate my position on human economics, its history, and its branches of thought. A Marxism without Graeber's anthropology is beginning to feel meaningless to me."
Charles Mudede, The Stranger

"The world of borrowing needs a little demystification, and David Graeber's Debt is a good start."
The L Magazine

"Controversial and thought-provoking, an excellent book."
Booklist

"This timely and accessible book would appeal to any reader interested in the past and present culture surrounding debt, as well as broad-minded economists."
Library Journal

Praise for David Graeber


“I consider him the best anthropological theorist of his generation from anywhere in the world.”
—Maurice Bloch, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics

"A brilliant, deeply original political thinker."
Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell

“If anthropology consists of making the apparently wild thought of others logically compelling in their own cultural settings and intellectually revealing of the human condition, then David Graeber is the consummate anthropologist. Not only does he accomplish this profound feat, he redoubles it by the critical task—now more urgent than ever—of making the possibilities of other people’s worlds the basis for understanding our own.”
—Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago

About the Author

David Graeber teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire, and Direct Action: An Ethnography. He has written for Harper’s, The Nation, Mute, and The New Left Review. In 2006, he delivered the Malinowski Memorial Lecture at the London School of Economics, an annual talk that honors “outstanding anthropologists who have fundamentally shaped the study of culture.”

In the summer of 2011, he worked with a small group of activists and Adbusters magazine to plan Occupy Wall Street. Bloomberg Businessweek has called him an "anti-leader" of the movement. The Atlantic wrote that he "has come to represent the Occupy Wall Street message... expressing the group's theory, and its founding principles, in a way that truly elucidated some of the things people have questioned about it."


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By René Michaud on Nov. 7 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the very best books I have read. Sheds a bright light on the origines of the economy and the fairy tales that surround it. Brillant! I love the anthropologist perspective; the way debt has evolved through small family clans to modern society. I have to admit that, having researched the "economist" ways of managing natural resources and the "unlimited growth" paradigm (in a finite world, this is quite a bite to chew for an engineer), my understanding is that the economy has very little place for actually putting theories to the test... In science, theories are thought up, tested in practice and if they fail, well you've learned something! In economy it seems to me the theory just has to make sense.. and there it is, it must be that way things work... And just look at how it "works"!

This is a very nice complement to any research on the "mechanics" of economy that, in the end, are quite drab readings, and usually offer an incomplete perspective since the basic nature of economy is in fact social(no I'm not a socialist!!) through human exchange. I highly recommend this reading to anyone curious of how our world works... Also read Zarlenga.

BTW, nothing particularely marxiste, communist (except the fact the we, as humans do share "common" riches... and no I'm not a communist for using the word common!), this is a perticular and interesting view and has been cited in a white paper by economists from the IMF (... damn commies!) ;)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MarkAntony on Feb. 7 2015
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Surprising little masterpiece. One enters expecting a likely dry explication of matters economical and leaves - having detoured through history, anthropology, philosophy, economics and the links of all to the quite (as the author convinces us) diseased notion of modern 'debt' - feeling as though one has just encountered a skein of ideas a tad bit profound.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By One Million Monkeys on Aug. 16 2011
Format: Hardcover
Everyone talks about debt but I can't think of anyone else who has so deeply explored its role in our history and culture. This book goes FAR beyond a discussion of debt issues in contemporary capitalistic society (thought it does plenty of that too). Graeber has done amazing research into debt's role in religion, revolutions, and political power systems across cultures and throughout history, and he has come up with surprising, counter-intuitive, and provocative results. This book will completely change the way you think about economics, morality, power systems, philosophy, and money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Nelson on March 9 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In many ways, the author could have titled the book, "Slavery: The First 5,000 Years." The reading of this book was not easy; but it was, for sure, really worth the effort. Any economist, who has not read this this book closely, should not be considered an informed economist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By WorldofHiglet on Feb. 1 2014
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I put 5 stars as a review because the book is compelling, enraging, essential reading and absolutely fascinating. However, how can I say I 'love' a book about how a system has been designed by the powerful to screw ordinary people over? I prefer 5 'recommend' stars.
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