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Description

Now in audio, the updated and expanded edition: David Graeber's "fresh...fascinating...thought-provoking...and exceedingly timely" (Financial Times) history of debt.

Here, anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: He shows that before there was money, there was debt. 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.

©2014 David Graeber (P)2015 Gildan Media LLC

Critiques

"Controversial and thought-provoking, an excellent book." (Booklist)

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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  • Global
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Histoire
    1 out of 5 stars

Wannabe deep thinking on the essence of money

Really bad reading (listening), D. GRAEBER takes never-ending paths to express simple concepts and ideas.. Cheap

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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ProfGolf
  • 09/02/2017

Great insights but theme is hard to follow

The beginning and end of the book are absolutely riveting. They present a highly original reexamination of fundamental economic, social and moral tenets that calls into question many near universal assumptions about human relationships and political organizations.

However the long middle of the book is an academic treatise on several historical societies. I'm sure the author has a clear vision of how these meandering surprises connect to the core theme of debt, but I found myself frequently unable to see their relevance. So that part of the book was a tedious slog for me.

I am going to try rereading it without the middle chapters to see if I can gain a better understanding of the main arguments of how debt relates to violence and social organization. I think there is an important message here.

14 sur 15 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James C. Samans
  • 14/08/2016

Transformative to the point of being revolutionary

What did you love best about Debt - Updated and Expanded?

As we grow up, even before we study economics as a formal discipline, we're given a series of "truths" about human interaction - first and foremost the depiction of a world without money as a barter economy, as well as the "natural" human inclination to act for self-advantage, and these serve as the baseline for our reasoning. Thus, reasonable people applying their intellects to questions of human interaction and morality reach conclusions that can be supported by the underlying assumptions.

What David Graeber shows us in "Debt" is that virtually every such assumption is actually incorrect, either outright wrong or misinterpreted as a matter of historical record, so that all of our later reasoning is upended.

What did you like best about this story?

Before going back thousands of years to begin his unveiling, the author presents us with a scene from a cocktail party where he interacts with several people - one of them a banker, another working with a non-governmental organization. It's immediately clear from this interaction just how transformative Graeber's perspective is.

That Graeber is himself "on the left" is well-known - he self-identifies as an anarchist, and is considered to be one of the figures at the center of the early Occupy movement (see another of his books, "The Democracy Project," for details on this) - but this opening scene reveals even before anything else is discussed how the people we regard as "liberal" are really part of the same worldview as those we call "conservative," and that challenging the underlying assumptions is no more welcomed by one than the other.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

Gardner is an excellent narrator, and his tone is just right for the subject matter.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but coming in at nearly 18 hours, that's simply not possible. "Debt" is best listened to in substantial chunks, such as while commuting from place to place; I listened to it on the train, in the car, and while walking. There's a lot here, and it takes time to think about it and absorb the implications.

Any additional comments?

Some people post reviews calling this book "biased." There are certainly some value judgments made by the author, but what most such reviews really seem to be doing is taking issue with the audacity that an anthropologist would present an historical record - well supported by research, mind you - that shows the conventional wisdom on which our current economic thinking is based are all wrong. The negative reviews most often come down to incredulity that someone would dare to tell us that something "everyone" knows to be true (because we were told it was true) could actually be false.

What makes this so amusing is that the people writing such reviews, angry that their worldviews might be so completely wrong and unable to countenance such an idea on an intellectual level, rail that Graeber is "promoting his ideology," even though they're the ones left flailing around defending something whose bases have just been discredited.

You'll get nothing from this book is your intent is to get nothing. If you respond to being presented with very detailed, clearly valid interwoven evidence that much of the world's history just isn't the way that you imagine by saying "Well heck, what does he know?", then your view isn't going to be transformed, because you're taking your current economic beliefs - for whatever reason - purely on faith.

For those of us who studied economics and accepted its premises on faith but built our later understanding on reason from that starting point, reading "Debt" is a really disruptive experience that calls into question almost everything we think and know. It's a great read the first time and better the second.

68 sur 80 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kristin
  • 13/12/2015

Amazing description of debt history

I will qualify I am not a supporter of his protests or really ideals; however I thought this book was extremely well done with an objective perspective that made it a wonderful history lesson.

An excellent perspective on human history and the role debt played. Highly recommend, very easy to listen to and understand.

23 sur 28 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • wbiro
  • 19/10/2016

Far More Interesting than the Title Implies

After a few very dull and tedious philosophy books, this book was a lively relief.

There is lot of interesting general and specific history here, and many good stories/accounts.

Most curious was the theory that the barter system never existed outside of speculative fantasy (still having no evidence of every existing before monetary systems).

6 sur 7 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 04/12/2017

Interesting premise but a ramble in the middle

Very interesting concepts but I don't think the major themes were that well explained. Often found I had to relisten to segments, and the middle section of the book just felt like a jumble of ideas strung together.

Would avoid this narrator again, bit too nasal for me

2 sur 2 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • mminto
  • 13/01/2017

This book peeled my eyes open.

This is one of those rare A+ books. Dense with information and history, it shattered much of what I had thought about money, motivation, and mandkind as a whole. As a former scientist, I was astounded by how many my views of society and culture shifted as the result of reading this book. Truly eye opening.

10 sur 13 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • LGJX
  • 20/01/2017

Required Reading for Living in 2016 Onward

All of this within is important regardless if you agree with it or not. It gives you a key thing that is often hard to find: Perspective.

While some may dislike the length of the book, it is it's very length that gives it enough room for impact.

6 sur 8 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew William Peterson
  • 07/08/2018

Debt

This book, by David Graeber, has left a deep impression on me. I particularly liked his observation that some things being ‘worth more than money’ was precisely what led to a price on humans. Priceless family members as collateral for a loan (so the debtor is sure to pay) -> hard times prevent repayment, so the creditor takes the human collateral - > the creditors now must write off the debt or create a market for humans to recoup -> the market now decides the value of people through a sick, but obvious, chain of events which requires stripping the surrounding context of the valued community member to turn them into a thing people can buy. The author covers another dozen or so issues with examples to provide color.

1 sur 1 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Buyer
  • 16/03/2017

Engaging & Thought provoking

Well worth the price. I see the examples Graeber set out all over our world. Gardener gives a great performance.

A little academic at times but seriously worth it.

3 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Tsen
  • 01/10/2016

Goes off the deep end halfway through

Any additional comments?

The premise introduced in the beginning of the book--that the history of money consisted of a progression from credit to currency to barter, rather than the other way around, was interesting and compelling. There's a passing mention of how refusing to allow nations to default on debt amounts to moral hazard (true enough), but unfortunately after that things went downhill. Midway through the book the author switches to a strange view of the world where he insists that because we don't charge a coworker money for passing them a hammer when working together, we're all really communists (actual example from the book). All of which is part of an elaborate straw man version of traditional economics where all human interactions must be self-interested exchange, which the author constructs, then attacks for distorting reality to make all interactions fit that model. All of which seems like projecting on the author's part, since he immediately follows that with examples where he twists all kinds human interactions so that he can try to portray them as communism.

7 sur 10 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.