Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Debt The First Years Before there was money there was debtEvery economics textbook says the same thing Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems to relieve ancient people from having to haul th

  • Title: Debt: The First 5,000 Years
  • Author: David Graeber
  • ISBN: 9781612194196
  • Page: 168
  • Format: Paperback
  • Before there was money, there was debtEvery economics textbook says the same thing Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market The problem with this version of history There s not a shred of evidence to support it.Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal ofBefore there was money, there was debtEvery economics textbook says the same thing Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market The problem with this version of history There s not a shred of evidence to support it.Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom He shows that for 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, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to 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 without knowing it.Debt The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.

    • Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
      168 David Graeber
    • thumbnail Title: Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
      Posted by:David Graeber
      Published :2019-07-02T07:05:01+00:00

    About " David Graeber "

  • David Graeber

    David Rolfe Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist.On June 15, 2007, Graeber accepted the offer of a lectureship in the anthropology department at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he currently holds the title of Reader in Social Anthropology.He was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him, and his term there ended in June 2007.Graeber has a history of social and political activism, including his role in protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City 2002 and membership in the labor union Industrial Workers of the World.


  • Fantastic book. To quote the words of Arundhati Roy: "The trouble is that once you see it, you can't unsee it. And once you've seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There's no innocence. Either way, you're accountable."Thanks for helping me see more clearly the true contours of the life we live. I guess I'm accountable now.

  • I would call this an interesting but dangerous book. As opposed to other books in which every moment was a learning and enlightening enjoyment this book was exhaustingly tense because I found it to be a very confusing mix of dangerous (but plausible) ideas written in a smart way, and interesting historical or world data. So, I'll start the review with the negative things, and then move onto the positive ones:- the author seems to have a clear agenda, of attacking capitalism & free market ide [...]

  • I've returned to this book five years later, and now I'm struggling to find what I enjoyed so much in it the first time around. I'm even struggling to articulate what exactly Graeber's point is. This is a sprawling, wide-set book that seems almost incoherent, first setting up the strawman of intro economics textbooks discussing barter economics - but barter wasn't so common! The early economic history was and is still interesting, and now I'm tempted to go read up on the early Mesopotamian perio [...]

  • I think of stars as the following: 1, shouldn't have been published; 2, terrible; 3, pretty good; 4, really good; 5, everyone should read this (because it's eye-opening, incredibly skillful, and/or beautiful).Debt is a five-star book.Graeber's history encompasses not just history, but anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, political science, economics, religious studies, and finance as he details the history and definition of "debt." The conclusions he draws are--especially if you've [...]

  • As a sociologist, I've been despairing of late at the paucity of imagination and theoretical innovation in social science research. Academics, perhaps because of the need to publish quickly and garner grant money, seem content to only add statistical validation to already established conclusions. Or, a la David Harvey, to regurgitate Marx with minor variation, with a focus solely on the neoliberal period, and in US/Eurocentric fashion. Debt: The First 5,000 Years redeems the social sciences. Not [...]

  • “As it turns out, we don't "all" have to pay our debts. Only some of us do.” ― David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 YearsA fascinating exploration of debt, money, barter, and the credit systems used by man for thousands of years. Sure it has biases and like Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a bit too idealistic, but still -- wow -- an amazing read. While most economic books are still battling over the binary capitalism::socialism model, Graeber quietly flips both boats (or if not flip [...]

  • A superb book. Throughout reading this book I felt like little epiphanies were going off in my head as Graeber presented new information or new analyses that I hadn't considered before. Graeber manages to expose the violence, coercion and inequality that has become sublimated in the bland language of credit and debt so that most of us see debt as an impersonal, objective and moral issue. He opens with an anecdote that inspired him to write this book in the first place, describing attending a par [...]

  • In a word - brilliant. Just when I thought I understood all the false assumptions in modern economic theory, David Graeber uncovers yet another huge, unfounded assumption that economists discuss as if it's a matter of fact. I clearly remember sitting in my intro to macro class and hearing about how before there was money, people bartered and it was terribly inconvenient, then money was created and saved everybody. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that yet another aspect of our economic theory [...]

  • I haven't finished reading yet, and I will try to write a more substantive review of this book once I've had time to wrap my head around the contents, but until such time has come, I would simply propose to consider this book the new answer to Douglas Adams's Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. If you've ever wondered whether there is a connection between -- to name just a few things -- simple social obligations, the invention of money, slavery, taxation, coinage, the disapp [...]

  • Back to the Future of CreditDespite its title this book is really a deconstruction of the idea of money. The economist's idea is that credit (loans, cash advances etc.) arises in a well-developed monetary or 'cash on the barrel head' society which in turn had been an improvement on the previous system of barter. Not so says Graeber and rather convincingly: credit, or more precisely the ledger of who owes what to whom, is the most primitive form of commerce which is only supplemented by either ba [...]

  • This is a very thought-provoking analysis of the relationship between morality, debt, property, and money. Essentially, the author explores, through history and anthropology, the tension between the common beliefs that one should always pay one's debts and that to make a profit on lending money is wrong. In particular, this issue bears on our political unwillingness to change a situation where the vast majority of Americans will spend their lives paying off debts to a tiny minority who enjoy lud [...]

  • Brilhante, incisivo e ao mesmo tempo angustiante. David Graeber é um antropólogo especializado em economia, o que lhe dá uma visão bastante distinta do comum economista, já que coloca lado a lado o humano e as finanças, estudando em profundidade as suas implicações e dependências. O facto de ter sido professor em Yale e agora na London School of Economics, apenas possível pela qualidade do seu trabalho, garante sustentabilidade ao que afirma ao longo de todo este livro, mesmo quando se [...]

  • It's not often that one reads a book on political economy that is as thrilling to read as a detective novel, but Graeber's Debt is just such a book. Perhaps because he is an anthropologist, not an economist, he is able to take on a seemingly boring and pedestrian topic, and write an eye-opening book which addresses the origins of the current crisis of capitalism.Graeber's theme is a simple one. What makes us human is our relationship with others, starting with our mothers, then family and then t [...]

  • This book led me to re-think some of the fundamental aspects I have always thought our modern society is based upon: the basis of the current monetary system, market economies, the illusion of barter markets and most fundamentaly the way that debt is intertwined into the fabric of human interaction.Overall this is pleasant read, as an overview of market and monetary history from an anthropological perspective. The book starts to lag in sections where the author tries to apply his own solutions t [...]

  • I had a difficult time slogging through Debt. It shares a similar problem with Niall Fergeson's completely unreadable "the Ascent of Money:" it mixes in the author's politics and political leanings with history to give everything this weird political sheen (in this case left to Fergeson's right.) In this case, Graeber's book covers more facts than political lecturing but it's bumped several stars for being overt.However, Debt is a worthy read for anyone interested in the span of history from ear [...]

  • This might be the most important book you read this decade. Graeber ask what the phrase "You have to pay your debts" really means, and his answer involves a looping historical, anthropological, linguistic, and philosophical inquiry into the nature of currency, coinage, and capitalism.As Graeber notes, the standard economic story of the development of coinage: that bartering diverse good (potatoes for shoes for sheep for shovels) was so inconvenient that people developed cash to be more efficient [...]

  • First half 5 stars, second half 3 stars.When I was in the 5th grade, we had a social studies unit centered around a book called Life On Paradise Island. It was a cartoonish book that told the tale of how a modern economy is developed. It started with the islanders trading coconuts for fish. Of course things got complicated when the coconut guy didn't need or want fish, but he wanted a hut built and the hut builder wanted something else. Eventually a stone currency was developed and it made tradi [...]

  • This is a book that made an impression on me. I will say right up front that it doesn't totally hang together. It sets out to make a step by step case, and gets carried away with its own ideas. It is intellectual for a popular book, but not tight enough for an intellectual book (which is probably fine by me). It attempts to sell you on a grandiose prediction or statement of where we are in the arc of history and where we are going at the end of the book. It is easy to get swept up in that sentim [...]

  • A superb, readable economic history that will transform your thinking time and again. I can't effectively write a short review of this book: it's masterful, revolutionary, thought-provoking, and on its way to being the best book of the year for me.Regardless of your politics or knowledge of economics, you'll find new and fascinating material here. Graeber's scholarship is prodigious, and his writing style is highly accessible. Particularly if you suspect we might not be living in the best of all [...]

  • Mixed feelings: many interesting little tidbits and quotes, but overall I get the feel of a vast thesis made up of confirmation bias and unreliable evidence like etymologies; some parts are flabbergastingly wrong, like his brief description of Apple Computer's founding. (He apparently routinely makes factual mistakes; Brad DeLong apparently identified 50 in chapter 12 just to make that point.)And while he's very cynical about things he's against, he exhibits a strange lack of cynicism about his [...]

  • Seth Godin recommended this book in his blog in January 2017. Graeber gives an exhaustive history of the origins and types of debt. At times it is tedious, but it is never uninteresting. There are comprehensive discussions on the origins of money, consumerism, and capitalism. And countless historical tidbits help the reader to form an understanding of the relationships between religion, violence, war, debt, and the formation of markets. Then types of debts are further subcategorised. ie. debts t [...]

  • Hadn't read a book on banking or economics since college in the 1980s and The Money Lenders. Mostly this is because, although a life-long fan of Gothic literature and horror movies, nothing has ever scared me more than The Money Lenders, a truly terrifying read. The international banking coalition is even more frightening than the so-called terrorists or the super powers and their nuclear stockpiles! Unlike a political edifice, subject often to voting, or revolution, or a coup, the banks seems t [...]

  • Definitely one the most interesting anthropologies I have read in years, almost like a Discours sur l'inégalité for the 21st century. It is a startling new vision of the way debt has operated in different societies historically, and it presents compelling moral objections to economic principles that are widely regarded as certainties. Debt is also packed with examples from and insights into the whole of recorded history. Far too many examples to dilate upon here, but for two personal favorites [...]

  • Whooh. For a while I was thinking, "Is there no idea that this guy won't rip apart?" Some really great thoughts about the history and nature of debt throughout historyright up until the present day. The last couple of chapters (the last 200 years or so) just weren't as heavy and thick with detail as the previous millenia. On the one hand, I can understand -- look, you just can't be an expert on the entirety of history, and writing about recent history would probably be the most challenging for a [...]

  • Okay, let's just all agree, if there is any justice among gods or men, that this book will sweep The Wealth of Nations out of its spot in history, and will go on to influence how we think about economics for the next 5,000 years. That is all.

  • Aku berikan buku ini 4 bintang untuk "audacity", keberanian untuk mencabar status quo di dalam faham ekonomi kontemporer. Tapi penyampaiannya aku tidak boleh berikan lebih daripada 3 bintang - kemungkinan 2.5. Buku ini dihasilkan agak baru (2012) jadi gaya bahasa dan penulisannya adalah moden. Aku tak tahu kenapa tapi aku dapati gaya bahasa penulisan bahasa Inggeris untuk buku non-fiction mulai merudum selepas 1970. Dan memasuki abad 21 ini gaya penulisan jurnalistik (ayat-ayat pendek; mempersem [...]

  • While the rating system doesn't allow for fractional results this book should be a 4.5. David Graeber turns an anthropologist’s gimlet eye toward the way that economists analyze the world and after the first few chapters the dismal science is little more than a smoking ruin. “Debt: the First 5,000 Years” is an impressive and important book. It begins with a history of money that, while interesting in itself, is more important in showing how economists have been wrong about the most basic [...]

  • "Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Updated and Expanded)" by David Graeber explores commerce in various cultures and times of history. This book is not about debt specifically, but about various aspects of commerce (barter, debt, credit, coinage, etc.), as well as, about various larger topics (capitalism, communism, conquest, slavery, etc.). This book is filled with anecdotes from history and the author's claims based on those anecdotes. The book was both an enjoyable read and a frustrating one. Enjo [...]

  • A quite extraordinary book. 5000 years of the history of debt and credit by a very expert anthropologist though one with a fine sense of history and its implications for the future. His grasp of historical reality makes a mockery of most economists sense of the origins of the market, or money. And his sure footed knowledge of ancient Iraq and other middle east countries, of India and China throws a completely fresh and global perspective on all economic history especially opening up Western Euro [...]

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