Cover of The Dawn of Everything

The Dawn of Everything

A New History of Humanity

David Graeber and David Wengrow

Understanding that we have the power to make this world better is especially important during times when everything seems aligned to thwart us. Among the most profound obstacles to imagining a world without exploitation and oppression is the received wisdom telling us that it has to be this way. That it has always been this way, or on a linear progression to being this way. In The Dawn of Everything, archaeologist David Wengrow and the late anthropoligist David Graeber have given us a sprawling, challenging and inspiring corrective to some of the most entrenched furrows of that received wisdom.

One of their principal targets is the idea that the adoptioan of agriculture necessarily meant a wealth accumulation, inequality and technological acceleration. This account has been popular in some bestselling books of recent years (such as Guns, Germs and Steel, Sapiens, and Against the Grain) but ignores the growing body of evidence against it. \n\nThe idea that we have passed through a "progression" of development from hunter-gatherers to sedentary agriculturalists to urban city states to a globalized web of capitalist nation states is itself one of the enlightenment era just-so stories that don’t stand up to scrutiny, at least according to Graeber and Wengrow’s survey of recent research. People have lived in all sorts of ways, sometimes in very large numbers and in arrangements that lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. Things, it turns out, are far messier and perhaps more hopeful than we’ve been led to believe. Anyone who enjoyed Debt: the first 5,000 Years or any of the much-beloved Graeber’s work won’t need any arm-twisting. This is provocative, captivating and mostly convincing extrapolation of one of Graeber’s oft-quoted lines: "The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently." \n

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Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual shackles and perceive what’s really there. If humans did not spend 95 percent 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 human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume (Publisher’s Description)

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