Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Author(s): David Graeber

Society & Culture

Economic history states that money replaced a bartering system, yet there isn't any evidence to support this axiom. Anthropologist Graeber presents a stunning reversal of this conventional wisdom. For more than 5000 years, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods. Since the beginning of the agrarian empires, humans have been divided into debtors and creditors. Through time, virtual credit money was replaced by gold and the system as a whole went into decline. This fascinating history is told for the first time.


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"One of the year's most influential books. Graeber situates the emergence of credit within the rise of class society, the destruction of societies based on 'webs of mutual commitment' and the constantly implied threat of physical violence that lies behind all social relations based on money." - Paul Mason, "The Guardian" "The book is more readable and entertaining than I can indicate... It is a meditation on debt, tribute, gifts, religion and the false history of money. Graeber is a scholarly researcher, an activist and a public intellectual. His field is the whole history of social and economic transactions." - "Peter Carey," The Observer" "An alternate history of the rise of money and markets, a sprawling, erudite, provocative work." - Drake Bennett, "Bloomberg Businessweek " "[A]n engaging book. Part anthropological history and part provocative political argument, it's a useful corrective to what passes for contemporary conversation about debt and the economy." - Jesse Singal, "Boston Globe" "Fresh... fascinating... Graeber's book is not just thought-provoking, but also exceedingly timely." - "Gillian Tett, "Financial Times"(London) "Terrific... In the best anthropological tradition, he helps us reset our everyday ideas by exploring history and other civilizations, then boomeranging back to render our own world strange, and more open to change." - "Raj Patel, "The Globe and Mail" "Graeber's book has forced me to completely reevaluate my position on human economics, its history, and its branches of thought. A Marxism without Graeber's anthropology is beginning to feel meaningless to me." - Charles Mudede, "The Stranger" "The world of borrowing needs a little demystification, and David Graeber's "Debt "is a good start." - "The L Magazine" "Controversial and thought-provoking, an excellent book." - "Booklist"

General Fields

  • : 9781612191812
  • : Melville House Publishing
  • : Melville House Publishing
  • : March 2012
  • : United States
  • : July 2012
  • : April 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : David Graeber
  • : Paperback
  • : 612
  • : 332.49
  • : 544