The dawn of everything : a new history of humanity

English language

ISBN:
978-0-241-40242-9
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4 stars (9 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, …

10 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 …

Review of 'The Dawn of Everything' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

I’m happy that I read (or well, listened) to this book. It’s made me much less apathetic about history and made me realise that the motherfuckers who sold it as an endless triade of mud farmers and divine kings were, in fact, selling something else and far more insidious than tedious history lessons in school.

For this purpose though at least two thirds of the book could probably have been dropped without losing anything important (to me), but I also appreciate the thoroughness. At least it told me anthropology is probably not my jam.

I also appreciate how the reader makes an effort to pronounce all the names, including the ones in French, Turkish, and a few other languages I’m not even sure anyone alive knows how to pronounce.

Review of 'The Dawn of Everything' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

One of the earliest recollections I have about thinking about ancient peoples was while playing Age of Empires (@AgeOfEmpires): as an omniscient god, I commanded villagers to build and farm until buildings of the army and university created scientific breakthroughs I could use to make better dudes to kill other civilizations.

Graeber (@DavidGraeber) and Wengrow (@DavidWengrow) show that the myth of prehistory doesn't really stray far from the gameplay of Age of Empires in #TheDawnOfEverything: after humanity fell from the "eden" of egalitarian hunters and gathers, agriculture required individuals to give up autonomy to brutal rulers to avoid returning the Hobbesian horrors of an "eden" that is both paradise and hell. According to the myth, the continued progress of humanity requires the social contract because humans are incapable of organizing without the threat of violence.

In the Dawn of Everything, Graeber and Wengrow demolish the myths of prehistory with modern …

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