Before there was money, there was debt....
Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems - to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it.
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods - that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history - as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.
©2011 David Graeber (P)2012 Gildan Media Corp
I truly do not understand the high ratings for this book. The author equates crony capitalism and predatory lending with true Capitalism. This book is fodder for college professors who have never worked a real job. Much of the books research is conjecture. Only the hard left will submit to the authors view points over Adam smith who author rejects out of hand. I understand people have a problem with too big to fail banks. Most everyone agrees the ties between government and these banks is a HUGE problem. But this is not capitalism. It is a bastardization of capitalism. The author identifies that everyday people are getting the shaft from the unholy alliance between the banks and government. But to throw away capitalism in it's entirety is a faulty idea. This book is fodder for left wing economic professors who have never had a real job. It is hard left drivel.
Love love love what I learned from this book. If you're at all interested in anthropology and have an interest in learning more about our current economic system from a historic, policy and cultural perspective, it's a definite must-read. It gets a bit hard to follow along as he delves into a lot of topics easier read and digested in writing, but even just half-paying attention you'll pick up a ton of fascinating tidbits and crazy, weird and funny stories!
I bought this book based on author Charlie Stross' recommendation. I expected it to be an insightful explanation of trade, currency, and of course, debt. Unfortunately the single agenda of the book is to make you feel angry and conspired against. Graeber's various anecdotes are cherry-picked, and his conclusions nonsensical. His prose is heavy on emotion and light on clarity.
I regret buying this book and the time I spent reading it.
It was a book about one person's notion that people should live without money and without debt -- we should all share what we have.
He used short anecdotes to support big ideas. Big ideas need a lot of data and many studies, especially when the big ideas are to forgive all debt and for everyone and eliminate the notion of money.
Consistent, pleasent, strong.
If you’re looking for that rare book about economics written by an anthropologist, then this book is for you. The author seems amused by all the major economists both past and present. His conclusion after 17 hours: forgive all debt for everyone and drop the foolish notion of money.
Poor guy. I bet he was wondering how he'd ever get those hours of his life back.
It's so bad I was just surprised.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
It explores debt as a universal truth, covering its financial form as well as trying to interpret religions on a debt-based system.
It made me really think about the world in a different way.
This book gave me a new perspective of how to see the value of money. To think that our dollar doesn't have the value (what backs it up) was mind blowing for me.
What an eye opener. We apparently reside within an historical cycle cash and credit with all it's benefits and injuries.
The conversation on what Money is is fascinating..
The narrator does a fantastic job.
This book is an essential part in broadening your understanding of the historical world and why the international community finds itself in the throws of a financial system it cannot fully understand or control.
A fresh look at the history of money, credit, and the economy in general. The author questions many of the commonly-held assumption about the nature, and the very existence of "the market", and raises fascinating questions. Some of the issues he discusses are so basic to our thinking, that we rarely think of questioning them. One such point is "one should pay his debts" - but why, exactly? Shouldn't the lender carry some risk, if the debtor fails? What came first, money or credit? Was money really invented to replace systems of barter?
This was truly one of most thought provoking works I've read or listened to in a long time, and I fully recommend it.
I cannot recommend it too strongly to anyone who wants to understand human history and the way society functions. This is a book of extraordinary richness, depth, breadth and originality that puts the world and the histories of human society into a new perspective and thereby stimulates us to rethink much of what we think we know. It is a great joy to find such a book.
Gardner reads very well and has a pleasant voice.
There are many, when suddenly new light is shed upon something seemingly familiar.
It is probably appealing only to those with intellectual interests who seek more than entertainment. To me, it is a truly great work that makes one reflect and re-think.
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