The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity - David Graeber

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity


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A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution--from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality--and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike--either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this dialectic has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors illustrate how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual blinders 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 during all that time? If agriculture and cities did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organizations 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 open to playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume.

The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and begins to imagine new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action.

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution--from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality--and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike--either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this dialectic has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors illustrate how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual blinders 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 during all that time? If agriculture and cities did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organizations 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 open to playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume.

The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and begins to imagine new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action.

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