Debt by David Graeber
The First 5,000 Years

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Synopsis

Now in paperback: David Graeber’s “fresh . . . fascinating . . . thought-provoking . . . and exceedingly timely” (Financial Times) history of debt
 
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. 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.
 

About David Graeber

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David Graeber teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics. 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.” One of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Graeber has been called an “anti-leader of the movement” by Bloomberg Businessweek. 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.”From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Published July 12, 2011 by Melville House. 544 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Debt

London Review of Books

Unless the euro – a virtual currency as inflexible, to date, as any golden fetters – is devalued, it will be hard for the EU, which has a larger economy than the US, to escape the consequences foreseen by the economist Nouriel Roubini: ‘Without a much easier monetary policy … more eurozone countr...

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Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Jul 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

The New York Review of Books

Not until the Great Depression and the Franklin Roosevelt era did the US government became serious about debt relief, with a series of policies that refinanced distressed home mortgages, reformed and recapitalized banks, extended relief to bankrupt consumers, financed a huge war debt at below-mar...

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io9

Humans should extend hospitality to the visitors as we would "to any alien entity, including the human variety illegal alien."

Apr 22 2013 | Read Full Review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Book Forum

In tracing the genealogy of the noxious form of debt that we are familiar with today and contrasting it against an ancient, society-grounding conception of human indebtedness, Graeber has given us a significant piece of historical scholarship, one that demonstrates how a new understanding of debt...

Dec 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

India Today

There is an element of a giant conspiracy theory in David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 years.

Nov 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com

This is the violence Tarantino shows directed against black slaves as a matter of course in Django – the brutal beatings given to runaways, the sadistic punishments by foremen, the laws prohibiting black men from riding horses, and the mobs that form to uphold those laws – in contrast to the more...

Jan 22 2013 | Read Full Review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

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