The Dawn of Everything

A New History of Humanity

Hardcover, 704 pages

Published Nov. 8, 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

ISBN:
9780374157357

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4 stars (4 reviews)

The renowned activist and public intellectual David Graeber teams up with the professor of comparative archaeology David Wengrow to deliver a trailblazing account of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the emergence of "the state," political violence, and social inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, 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 conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, …

6 editions

Another slog to get through.

4 stars

This book suffers from two things in terms of its writing and structure. First, there's Graeber's desire to compress as much information into one space as humanly possible, even to the detriment of his own argument and the discussion he wants to push people to have. The second is that it seems, if I'm reading into both authors' writing styles correctly, Wengrow's desire to flesh out those concepts with more detail to further support them. (I say that because I've checked a few of his articles, and he has a tendency to develop even more focused detail than Graeber.)

I could be wrong about who was doing what, but regardless? The end result is a book that is a slog to get through and frequently leaves me forgetting half of what I've read, going back to skim it and remind myself about what they were discussing, and then trying to …

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4 stars