Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Hardback Melville House Publishing

By (author) David Graeber

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  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 191mm x 42mm | 780g
  • Publication date: 23 June 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Brooklyn
  • ISBN 10: 1933633867
  • ISBN 13: 9781933633862
  • Sales rank: 21,062

Product description

Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter system-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 formore than 5,000 years, since the beginning of the agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems. It is in this era, Graeber shows, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. With the passage of time, however, virtual credit money was replaced by gold and silver coins-and the system as a whole began to decline. Interest rates spiked and the indebted became slaves. And the system perpetuated itself with tremendously violent consequences, with only the rare intervention of kings and churches keeping the system from spiraling out of control. 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.

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Author information

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."

Review quote

"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" 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" "A scholar whose books and articles are used in college classrooms around the world and an anarchist who is a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World." "--The New York Times" "He's a public intellectual. He speaks out. He participates. He's not someone who simply does good scholarship; he's an activist and a controversial person." --Stanley Aronowitz "If anthropolo