• The Great Leveler

  • Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century
  • De : Walter Scheidel
  • Lu par : Joel Richards
  • Durée : 17 h et 31 min
  • Version intégrale Livre audio
  • Date de publication : 10/10/2017
  • Langue : Anglais
  • Éditeur : Tantor Audio
  • 5 out of 5 stars (1 notation)

Prix : 16,78 €

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Description

Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling - mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues - have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich.

Scheidel identifies and examines these processes, from the crises of the earliest civilizations to the cataclysmic world wars and communist revolutions of the 20th century. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future.

©2017 Princeton University Press (P)2017 Tantor

Critiques

"Sweeping and provocative." ( New Yorker)

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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Trier par :
  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars

Real, relevant history

At school history seemed to be about dry dates and battles and kings and not about groups of people with whom one could identify and sympathise. But history writing in the last 20 years seems to have woken up to theory, cause and effect, and thus have meaning. Maybe it is just me growing up.

This book is similar to 'Why Nations Fail' by Robinson and Acemoglu, in that it has a thesis and then grids up history by time and geography to find numerous sample units to test or illustrate the thesis. Basic thesis is that in times of relative stability (often, but not always, accompanied by economic development) the powerful members of the society find ways to extract much of the surplus economic output and hold on to it. i.e. in times of relative stability inequality slowly ratchets upwards. This drift towards inequality is then (occasionally) punctured by mass mobilisation war, state collapse, revolution or plague. Everyone loses (including sometimes their life), but the rich tend to lose more. There is much detail about the differences and degree, but in the end the conclusion is that it generally takes significant force (violence or misfortune) to separate the powerful and the bourgeoisie from their comforts. So the relevance for today is: is there a peaceful mechanism that we can use to stop our modern societies from becoming more unequal than they already are? After an unprecedented 'compression' brought about by the two WWs and the revolutions of the last (violent) century, almost all states have drifted towards greater inequality since about 1975. This is not a political book, but it certainly provides an interesting historical perspective on a question that is a political hot potato, and that is going to be around for a while.

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  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Varun
  • 10/02/2018

Content is not suitable for an Audiobook

The narrator has done a good job, but the content of the book is too technical to be suited to the style of delivery of an audiobook. I highly recommend that you read rather than listen to this book. There are many details and it becomes difficult not to get lost and stay focussed as the content is narrated.

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

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lauren L
  • 03/04/2018

As depressing as it is convincing

Mr Scheidel makes a controversial case - at least for those of us not well versed in this aspect of economics - and he makes it so convincingly that The Great Leveler is in fact a very dry read. Nonetheless the fundamental revelation (for that is what it is for me) about inequality and the forces conspiring to increase it, is powerful.

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

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Histoire
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  • Soo Rose
  • 01/04/2018

An increase in why inequality exists.

Liked not loved this book. throughout the beginning and middle of the reading it continued to be very dry. The upside of this is the reasoning for how dry the material was in its concluding final chapters where all is needed in summary and understanding as a whole.

3 sur 4 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
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 01/08/2018

Amazing book that shows the inequality of the past

it was an amazing listen on the past present and future of inequality and the destabilization it causes. A bit pessimistic but realistic through and through.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Donttreadonme
  • 14/07/2018

Both immense in scope and tragic.

This work is a terrific refutation of the egalitarian movements throughout history. The author shows that the only way inequality is truly ever leveled is by horrific events that bring mass casualties, massive property damage and mass famine. Not exactly a good track record for those who are still pushing that tired narrative of “equality of outcomes”.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David Geeraerts
  • 18/06/2018

Inequality is inevitable.

Inequality can not be laid at the feet of capitalism.
The four horseman of the past are not desired for the future.

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

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hudson Davis
  • 14/06/2018

wow

this book is one I wish wasn't true. very humbling. not only does inequality exist, it's way worse than we thought.

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

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 11/06/2018

Incredible Research BUT Extremely Dense

The Great Leveler is a look at the history of inequality throughout the world and the factors which may (or may not) reduce inequality. Scheidel considers 4 levelers: war, plague, revolution and state collapse. Scheidel does not cut corners, looking at a wide array of evidence to carefully conclude which factors reduce inequality, in what situations they reduce inequality, the various examples of this throughout history, and an analysis of the counterexamples. I would highly recommend reading this book, especially if one is a social scientist or economist, concerned about global inequality.

Scheidel presents his arguments in a very organized manner and it is easy to follow along. Additionally, Scheidel does not assume much in the way of prior knowledge. Scheidel presents the basic information researchers need to know to understand things like Gini coefficients and other economic measures of inequality. Additionally, Schiedel lays out the specific pieces of information pertinent to each historical case, though a rudimentary understanding of world history would be greatly beneficial.

While I found this book extremely useful, I could not rate the book as a five due to the writing style. Scheidel's is very erudite and the material can get dry at times. This text is not approachable to the average reader. While a person does not have to be a social scientist, economist, anthropologist, etc., to understand Scheidel's work, a person does have to have a fairly high baseline education level to understand what Scheidel is saying.

Overall, this is an incredible book. The research presented here is broad and deep. However, do not expect to get through this book in a day (or even a week).

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

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Midwest north
  • 23/05/2018

A depressing but informative read

As the author states quite clearly this shouldn't be the end-all-be-all when discussing information on this topic but it certainly a substantial addition to a field that is currently lacking in such intellectual rigor.

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

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Robert Blais
  • 02/02/2018

REPETITIVE AND OVERLY DETAILED.

What would have made The Great Leveler better?

THIS MIGHT BE A GREAT BOOK FOR A RESEARCH ECONOMIST BUT WAS QUITE BORING TO ME. THE SUBJECT TITLE SOUNDED VERY INTERESTING BUT THE TEXT JUST "DRONED ON." I ALSO THOUGHT THAT THE AUTHOR MADE TOO LITTLE OF THE FACT THAT FOR MOST OF THE FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES THE UPPER !% HAVE GAINED BUT SO HAVE THE MIDDLE CLASSES--HIS STATISTICS WERE SKEWED.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I DON'T KNOW

Did Joel Richards do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

YES--CONSIDERING THE TECHNICAL AND VERBOSE DATA HE DID VERY WELL.

What character would you cut from The Great Leveler?

N/A

Any additional comments?

OVERALL I ENJOY MY AUDIBLE BOOKS IMMENSELY !

2 sur 18 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

Trier par :
  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick Beer
  • 08/07/2018

Too academic for an audio book

In my opinion this book is way too academic in its language for an audio book. It throws around loads of numbers, making it impossible to stay concentrated. In the end however all the numbers are just different calculations of one measure: how many percent of rich people own how many percent of total wealth etc. I bought this book as I saw it on the Financial Times book list, but as it is not really popular science I would only suggest it to people who have a really profound interest in the topic.