Sample
  • Work

  • A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots
  • By: James Suzman
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Guy Smith
  • Length: 13 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (321 ratings)

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Work  By  cover art

Work

By: James Suzman
Narrated by: Nicholas Guy Smith
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Publisher's summary

"This book is a tour de force." (Adam Grant, New York Times best-selling author of Give and Take)

A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work by leading anthropologist James Suzman.

Work defines who we are. It determines our status and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hardwired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like?

To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of "work" from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He demonstrates how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago. Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, our migration to cities. Since then, our relationships with one another and with our environments, and even our sense of the passage of time, have not been the same.

Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves.

©2021 James Suzman (P)2021 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

"His book meticulously charts the evolution of labor over 300,000 years, a strategy that brings welcome perspective to our current economic woes. While ostensibly a science book, it is also a devastating critique of consumer capitalism and a kind of self-help guide, underlying just how abnormal our lives are by our ancestors’ standards." (The Irish Times)

"A fascinating exploration that challenges our basic assumptions on what work means. As automation threatens to completely disrupt the global job market, it is urgent to rethink the economic, psychological and even spiritual importance of work. By examining the lives of hunter-gatherers, apes and even birds, Suzman highlights that what we consider ‘natural’ is often just the questionable legacy of industrial gurus and agricultural religions. Knowing the history of how we have spent our time in the past will hopefully enable us to make more sensible choices in the future.” (Yuval Noah Harari, New York Times best-selling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)

“Here is one of those few books that will turn your customary ways of thinking upside down. An incisive and original new history that invites us to rethink our relationship with work - and to reimagine what it means to be human in an ever-more automated future.” (Susan Cain, New York Times best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking)