Work, Sex and Power

Work, Sex and Power : The Forces that Shaped Our History

3.75 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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This is the history of the world, from the origins of the Cosmos to the present day, seen through three major narratives: work, sex and power - the forces that have done more than any other to shape the world as we see it now.

It expertly explores the foundations of our developing society by showing how these grand themes have recurred throughout the various phases of global history. From communities of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers, through feudalism and onto the capitalistic machine-civilisation of recent centuries, Willie Thompson takes us on a journey that is fundamentally opposed to mainstream histories which concentrate on monarchs, politicians and military commanders.

At the centre of this book lies the interaction between humans and their environment. By exploring history in this way, it reveals a simple yet powerful materialist understanding of how we got to where we are today, and opens a door to a different reading of our world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 150 x 230 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1st ed.
  • 0745333400
  • 9780745333403
  • 1,626,404

Table of contents


1. Cosmos, Creatures and Consciousness

2. Cooperation, Stone, Bone and Dispersal

3. The Neolithic Transformation: Settlement, Wealth and Social Differentiation

4. Gender Differentiation, Sex and Kindred

5. Status Differentiation, Hierarchy and Hegemony

6. Exploitation and Violence

7. Ethics, Ambitions, Crime and Punishment

8. The Origins of Belief in the Supernatural and the First Salvation Religions

9. Monotheism

10. Imagined Communities: Signs and Symbols, Identities and Nations

11. A Broad View - The Rhythm of Empire

12. Human Reality in Transformation: Modern Population, Migration and Labour

13. Inhuman Powers - Capitalism, Industry and their Consequences

14. No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Trade-Offs, Opportunity Cost and the Dynamic of Unintended Consequences

15. Social Critique

16. Socialism: its Promise and Paradox

17. Desperately Seeking Significance


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Review quote

'A welcome addition to the history of change in the global human condition and situation' -- Dr KAJ McLay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Canterbury Christ Church University 'A powerful book derived from decades of historical research and reflection on the essence of what it is to be human. A must read' -- Dianne Kirby, Reader in International History, University of Ulster 'An engaging and concise world history that is both analytically ambitious and lucidly argued' -- John Callaghan, Professor of Politics, University of Salford 'An extremely ambitious attempt to explain the history of humankind. Thompson's historical materialism provides him with a reliable compass on his journey and the end result is nothing short of inspiring' -- Stefan Berger, Professor of Social History and Director of the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, Germany
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About Willie Thompson

Willie Thompson was Professor of Contemporary History at Glasgow Caledonian University. His books include Work, Sex and Power (Pluto, 2015), Ideologies in the Age of Extremes (Pluto, 2011) and What Happened to History? (Pluto, 2000). He is currently vice-president of the Socialist History Society.
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Rating details

8 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 25% (2)
4 38% (3)
3 25% (2)
2 12% (1)
1 0% (0)
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