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Debt - Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years Paperback – October 28, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 234 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the Bateson Book Prize awarded by the Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Literature

“Written in a brash, engaging style, the book is also a philosophical inquiry into the nature of debt — where it came from and how it evolved.” —Thomas Meaney, The New York Times Book Review 

“Debt [is] meticulously and deliciously detailed.” —Ben Ehrenreich, Los Angeles Times 

"Exhausting...Engaging...An authoritative account of the background to the recent crisis. Both erudite and impertinent, [Graeber's] book helps illuminate the omissions of the current debate and the tacit political conflicts that lurk behind technical budget questions." —Robert Kuttner, The New York Review of Books

"Fascinating... [An] extraordinary book, at once learned and freewheeling." —Benjamin Kunkel, London Review of Books

“One of the year’s most influential books. Graeber situates the emergence of credit within the rise of class society, the destruction of societies based on ‘webs of mutual commitment’ and the constantly implied threat of physical violence that lies behind all social relations based on money.” —Paul Mason, The Guardian

"An alternate history of the rise of money and markets, a sprawling, erudite, provocative work." —Drake Bennett, Bloomberg Businessweek
 
“[A] formidable piece of anthropological scholarship... [Graeber] demonstrates how a new understanding of debt might provide us with some clues for the future.” —Justin E. H. Smith, Bookforum

“An absolutely indispensable—and enormous—treatise on the history of money and its relationship to inequality in society.” —Cory DoctorowBoingBoing

"[A]n engaging book. Part anthropological history and part provocative political argument, it's a useful corrective to what passes for contemporary conversation about debt and the economy."
Jesse Singal, Boston Globe
 
“The book is more readable and entertaining than I can indicate... It is a meditation on debt, tribute, gifts, religion and the false history of money. Graeber is a scholarly researcher, an activist and a public intellectual. His field is the whole history of social and economic transactions.” Peter Carey, The Observer

“Graeber helps by exposing the bad old world of debt, and clearing the way for a new horizon beyond commodification.” — The New Left Review
 
"Terrific... In the best anthropological tradition, he helps us reset our everyday ideas by exploring history and other civilizations, then boomeranging back to render our own world strange, and more open to change."
Raj Patel, The Globe and Mail
 
"Fresh... fascinating... Graeber’s book is not just thought-provoking, but also exceedingly timely."
—Gillian Tett, Financial Times (London)

"Remarkable."
Giles Fraser, BBC RADIO 4

"An amazing debut – conversational, pugnacious, propulsive"
Times Higher Education (UK)

"Graeber's book has forced me to completely reevaluate my position on human economics, its history, and its branches of thought. A Marxism without Graeber's anthropology is beginning to feel meaningless to me."
Charles Mudede, The Stranger

"The world of borrowing needs a little demystification, and David Graeber's Debt is a good start."
The L Magazine

"Controversial and thought-provoking, an excellent book."
Booklist

"This timely and accessible book would appeal to any reader interested in the past and present culture surrounding debt, as well as broad-minded economists."
Library Journal

Praise for David Graeber


"A brilliant, deeply original political thinker."
Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell
 
“I consider him the best anthropological theorist of his generation from anywhere in the world.”
—Maurice Bloch, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics

“If anthropology consists of making the apparently wild thought of others logically compelling in their own cultural settings and intellectually revealing of the human condition, then David Graeber is the consummate anthropologist. Not only does he accomplish this profound feat, he redoubles it by the critical task—now more urgent than ever—of making the possibilities of other people’s worlds the basis for understanding our own.”
—Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago

About the Author

David Graeber is a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. One of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Graeber is also the author of Utopia of Rules and has written for The Guardian, Harper’s, The Baffler, n+1, The Nation, The New Inquiry, and The New Left Review.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
234 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2018
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Top international reviews

Mr. M. A. Crown
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener - Read It!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2020
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Mr. Duncan Macfarlane
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant historical and anthropological study of money and debt, let down slightly by a weak conclusion.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 4, 2017
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Ivan Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Debt: or is it money?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2018
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Thomas Dana Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is essential reading for anyone interested in economics ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 8, 2015
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A. Smithson
5.0 out of 5 stars mind blowing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2015
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Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to describe
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fraser king
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but long
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 9, 2018
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Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2019
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Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Real insights on our society.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2015
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Mr B
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 14, 2019
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Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars It brilliantly explains the origins of so much of the way ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2015
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A well travelled reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 30, 2016
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Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly original book full of assumption breaking ideas which ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2015
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Margot T
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2015
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