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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2012-11-27
  • Publisher: Melville House
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Before there was money, there was debt Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems-to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There's not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods-that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like "guilt," "sin," and "redemption") derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Yearsis a fascinating chronicle of this little known history-as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy. From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

On the Experience of Moral Confusionp. 1
The Myth of Barterp. 21
Primordial Debtsp. 43
Cruelty and Redemptionp. 73
A Brief Treatise on the Moral Grounds of Economic Relationsp. 89
Games with Sex and Death
Honor and Degradation, or, on the Foundations of Contemporary Civilizationp. 165
Credit Versus Bullion, And the Cycles of Historyp. 211
The Axiai Age (800 BC-600 AD)p. 223
The Middle Ages (600 AD-1450 AD)p. 251
Age of the Great Capitalist Empires (1450-1971)p. 307
The Beginning of Something Yet to Be Determined (1971-present)p. 361
Notesp. 393
Bibliographyp. 455
Indexp. 493
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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