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Melville House Publishing

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

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

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The classic work on debt, now is a special tenth anniversary edition with a new introduction by Thomas Picketty

Before there was money, there was debt.
Every 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 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, 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. It shows how debt has defined our human past, and what that means for our economic future.

Author: David Graeber
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Published: 05/25/2021
Pages: 560
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 2.10lbs
Size: 8.90h x 5.90w x 1.90d
ISBN: 9781612199337

About the Author
DAVID GRAEBER (1961--2020) was an American professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, who also taught at Goldsmiths College and Yale University. One of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Graeber was also the author of The Utopia of Rules and numerous other books, as well as writing for magazines and newspapers including The Guardian, Harper's, The Baffler, n+1, The Nation, The New Inquiry and The New Left Review.

THOMAS PIKETTY is professor of economics at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, associate chair at the Paris School of Economics, and Centennial Professor of Economics in the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics. His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

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