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Debt: The First 5,000 Years,Updated and Expanded

Debt: The First 5,000 Years,Updated and Expanded

by David Graeber
Debt: The First 5,000 Years,Updated and Expanded

Debt: The First 5,000 Years,Updated and Expanded

by David Graeber


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The groundbreaking international best-seller that turns everything you think about money, debt, and society on its head—from the “brilliant, deeply original political thinker” David Graeber (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me)
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 that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors—which lives on in full force to this day.

So says anthropologist David Graeber in a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Renaissance Italy to Imperial 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612194196
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 49,767
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

David Graeber (1961-2020) was a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. One of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Graeber was also the author of Utopia of Rules and wrote widely for publications such as The Guardian, Harper’s, The Baffler, n+1, The Nation, The New Inquiry, and The New Left Review.

Table of Contents

1 On the Experience of Moral Confusion 1

2 The Myth of Barter 21

3 Primordial Debts 43

4 Cruelty and Redemption 73

5 A Brief Treatise on the Moral Grounds of Economic Relations 89

6 Games with Sex and Death

7 Honor and Degradation, or, on the Foundations of Contemporary Civilization 165

8 Credit Versus Bullion, And the Cycles of History 211

9 The Axiai Age (800 BC-600 AD) 223

10 The Middle Ages (600 AD-1450 AD) 251

11 Age of the Great Capitalist Empires (1450-1971) 307

12 The Beginning of Something Yet to Be Determined (1971-present) 361

Notes 393

Bibliography 455

Index 493

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