Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Debt: The First 5,000 YearsDebt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Plainly put, this book is outstanding. I read it on recommendation from a friend after we had a conversation about debt, and it's permanently changed my framework for looking at history: now I see power and economic imbalances instead of a linear series of events.

Graeber takes us from pre-history through the 2008 economic meltdown in 400 pages that are absolutely packed with information about world civilizations. Nearly everything one can think of is directly impacted by the concept of debt: war, peace, slavery, sex, family life, education, language, growth and decay of every kind; all are shaped by the indebtedness of countries, kings, businesses, and people to one another.

The endnotes are as enlightening as the text: when you read, be sure to follow along in the back when you come to a note, or you'll miss some of the best side-excursions you'll ever read.

One need not be an economist to read or appreciate this excellent book. Anyone who enjoys history and has a basic working knowledge of world civilizations will be astonished at the amount of information you will encounter here. It's like finding a common thread through everything that has always been there and was invisible until someone pointed it out. Graeber has done so with this extraordinary work.

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