The Dawn of Everything

A New History of Humanity

Hardback, 704 pages

English language

Published Jan. 30, 2022 by Allen Lane.

ISBN:
9780241402429

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (2 reviews)

A breathtakingly ambitious retelling of the earliest human societies offers a new understanding of world history

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike - either free and equal, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a reaction to indigenous critiques of European society, and why they are wrong. In doing so, they overturn our view of human history, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery and civilization itself.

Drawing on path-breaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we begin to see what's really there. If humans did not spend 95 per cent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands …

1 edition

Frustrating at best

2 stars

I usually find Graeber's work a bit annoying as I agree with the conclusions, but I find his arguments for how to get there lacking. I had high hopes for this book as the premise was interesting. Unfortunately, this book was even more frustrating that his others. I enjoyed the critique of eurocentric views on civilization, and I liked that the book argues against a narrative of progress through feudal lords and then capitalism.

However, a main argument in the book is against the idea that large population governance is not inherently oppressive. I wholly reject this idea. The arguments Graeber and Wengrow make are hundreds of pages long and never get beyond "well there is no evidence of a monarchy so they must have had people's assemblies and been democratic." The city, they infer, is therefore a structure we can have without oppressive relations. There is then much advocating …

Subjects

  • Civilization, history