David Graeber was a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is the author of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, and was a contributor to Harper's Magazine, the Guardian, and the Baffler. An iconic thinker and renowned activist, his early efforts helped to make Occupy Wall Street an era-defining movement. He died on 2 September 2020.
David Wengrow is a professor of comparative archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has been a visiting professor at New York University. He is the author of three books, including What Makes Civilization?. Wengrow conducts archaeological fieldwork in various parts of Africa and the Middle East.
A fascinating, intellectually challenging big book about big ideas.An act of intellectual effrontery that recalls Karl Marx ... The book's a gem. Its dense scholarly detail, compiling archaeological findings from some 30,000 years of global civilizations, is leavened by both freewheeling jokes and philosophic passages of startling originality ... The Dawn takes to the open sea to argue that things are, above all, subject to change.Are you looking for some hope in a dark season? The Dawn of Everything is a line of light at the edge of the world - an exploration of the radically different ways societies have been organised throughout time ... exciting, fresh and, yes, hopeful.A work of dizzying ambition, one that seeks to rescue stateless societies from the condescension with which they're usually treated ... Our forebears crafted their societies intentionally and intelligently: This is the fundamental, electrifying insight of The Dawn of Everything. It's a book that refuses to dismiss long-ago peoples as corks floating on the waves of prehistory. Instead, it treats them as reflective political thinkers from whom we might learn something.Not content with different answers to the great questions of human history, Graeber and Wengrow insist on revolutionizing the very questions we ask. The result: a dazzling, original, and convincing account of the rich, playful, reflective, and experimental symposia that 'pre-modern' indigenous life represents; and a challenging re-writing of the intellectual history of anthropology and archaeology. The Dawn of Everything deserves to become the port of embarkation for virtually all subsequent work on these massive themes. Those who do embark will have, in the two Davids, incomparable navigators.Graeber and Wengrow debug cliches about humanity's deep history to open up our thinking about what's possible in the future. There is no more vital or timely project.As dense, dizzying and ambitious as the title suggests, it offers a new take on 30,000 years of humanity, suggesting our present-centric focus does a disservice to the fascinating lives of our forebears, and providing fresh context for the modern condition.A truly crucial book ... an engrossing and revelatory re-examination of the human past challenges us to reject outdated ideas and consider new directions for our future.A work that is at once dense, funny, thorough, joyful, unabashedly intelligent, and infinitely readable.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER AND BBC HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR
FINALIST FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING 2022
'Pacey and potentially revolutionary' Sunday Times
'Iconoclastic and irreverent ... an exhilarating read' The Guardian
For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike - either free and equal, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a reaction to indigenous critiques of European society, and why they are wrong. In doing so, they overturn our view of human history, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery and civilization itself.
Drawing on path-breaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we begin to see what's really there. If humans did not spend 95 per cent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume.
The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision and faith in the power of direct action.
'This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast' Nassim Nicholas Taleb
'The most profound and exciting book I've read in thirty years' Robin D. G. Kelley
|TheDawn of Everything
|David GraeberDavid Wengrow