An exciting collaboration between the late American anthropologist and renowned activist David Graeber and British archaeologist David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything radically overturns the enlightenment project, recasting our distant ancestors as socially and emotionally complex human beings, and offers radical lessons for how we might rethink society and our future.
Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2022
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 of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume.
The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision and faith in the power of direct action.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 720
Weight: 490 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 30 mm
'Fascinating, thought-provoking, groundbreaking. A book that will generate debate for years to come.' - Rutger Bregman
'The Dawn of Everything is also the radical revision of everything, liberating us from the familiar stories about humanity's past that are too often deployed to impose limitations on how we imagine humanity's future. Instead they tell us that what human beings are most of all is creative, from the beginning, so that there is no one way we were or should or could be. Another of the powerful currents running through this book is a reclaiming of Indigenous perspectives as a colossal influence on European thought, a valuable contribution to decolonizing global histories.' - Rebecca Solnit
'Synthesizing much recent scholarship, The Dawn of Everything briskly overthrows old and obsolete assumptions about the past, renews our intellectual and spiritual resources, and reveals, miraculously, the future as open-ended. It is the most bracing book I have read in recent years.' - Pankaj Mishra
'This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast. There is not a single chapter that does not (playfully) disrupt well seated intellectual beliefs. It is deep, effortlessly iconoclastic, factually rigorous, and pleasurable to read.' - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
'A fascinating inquiry, which leads us to rethink the nature of human capacities, as well as the proudest moments of our own history, and our interactions with and indebtedness to the cultures and forgotten intellectuals of indigenous societies. Challenging and illuminating.' - Noam Chomsky
'Graeber and Wengrow have effectively overturned everything I ever thought about the history of the world ... The authors don't just debunk the myths, they give a thrilling intellectual history of how they came about, why they persist, and what it all means for the just future we hope to create. The most profound and exciting book I've read in thirty years.' - Robin D.G. Kelley
'A fascinating, intellectually challenging big book about big ideas.' - Kirkus
'Not content with different answers to the great questions of human history, Graeber and Wengrow insist on revolutionizing the very questions we ask. The result: a dazzling, original, and convincing account of the rich, playful, reflective, and experimental symposia that 'pre-modern' indigenous life represents; and a challenging re-writing of the intellectual history of anthropology and archaeology. The Dawn of Everything deserves to become the port of embarkation for virtually all subsequent work on these massive themes. Those who do embark will have, in the two Davids, incomparable navigators.' - James C. Scott
'Graeber and Wengrow debug cliches about humanity's deep history to open up our thinking about what's possible in the future. There is no more vital or timely project.' - Jaron Lanier
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I have just finished this today and it is one of the most inspiring and challenging books about history I have read. Highly recommend to anyone interested in how history can show us other ways of living, or to anyone... More
“Well researched, beautifully crafted and thought provoking”
This book is easy to read but really thought provoking; it does a thorough job of realigning our understanding of human history through interroagting recent archaeologicval and anthropological evidence. The breadth... More
One of my first reads of 2022 and I think it has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read! Read to feel a bit more hopeful, a bit less stuck. Graeber and Wengrow explore other possibilities and open up human history... More
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