[Publisher’s Marketing] A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and 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, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

Sign up to discuss this book on Monday February 26, March 4, and March 11 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the library. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Jeff Miller. Come for one session or all three.

February 26: Chapters 1-3 (pp. 1-120) goes over some of the information about the standard model of human development the authors critique
March 4: Chapters 4-9 (pp. 121-358) deals with specific questions about agriculture, property, and cities.
March 11: Chapters 10-12 (pp. 359-526) sums up the evidence and suggests alternative possibilities for human communities.