Customer Reviews


54 Reviews
5 star:
 (37)
4 star:
 (10)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics as if Adam Smith didn't matter
I've given this book 5 stars because I'm convinced that it has the potential to change the conventional narrative about economics and money, and in doing so can help us navigate towards a more humane economy that better serves the long-term interests of humanity...

Debt is a long overdue anthropological view of money and of human economies (by "anthropological"...
Published on 27 May 2012 by Jamie Osborne

versus
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rough diamond that requires some polishing
This is an almost great book which will cause a seismic shift in the way most its readers think about money and debt. It is a genuine pity, therefore, that the editing of the published version is so shoddy. The prose is careless and repetitive and in one instance I even saw a remark by a reviser in square brackets, wondering whether it was clear to whom the subject...
Published on 5 Mar. 2012 by Ross Smith


‹ Previous | 1 2 36 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A key to understand the forces of misunderstanding, 31 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a book that contains information about the origin of the monetary system that have escaped the economics and theologians. I find it most useful to come to grips with what has happend since the last ice age. What is the origin of guilt in an organized society like the Sumerian and how can I understand the creation of money in a society that don't use coins or banknotes. What does the heralded concept of cosmos really mean as a representation of a society of external and nternaliszd oppression and guilt.

A book that have expanded the orbits of my thoughts about the inner forces of our money driven society..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perhaps the most exhaustive and challenging book written on the subject, 2 Sept. 2011
When you are dealing with the so called 'Great Questions' about human nature, a comprehensive and thorough account of the latter is fundamental, otherwise you end up with the strange fantasies of most Western philosophers of the last centuries and contemporary economists. Also you end up with pernicious moral consequences. In this book, David Graeber goes through a very wide (and therefore very compelling) anthropological record of the most diverse facets that the phenomenon of debt has assumed throughout history, questioning the ethical dimension that it has taken in very recent time. I think that its timeliness and importance are great considering the fact that debt is always at the center of political and moral debates as well as being something for which the world economic structure is what it is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of work, 1 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Inspiring, erudite, sometimes shocking stuff. Debt is normal, but being forced to pay it off is a relatively new thing & a thing of violence. Owing a debt to each other is the natural glue that keeps society together. Having to pay it off with money causes suffering & divides us. Graeber goes into the history of money, debt, all that, with loads of examples. Definitely worth a read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good buy - everyone needs to read this, 27 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Paperback)
The author breaks down the various myths and fallacies that modern economic theory is built on - including current conceptions of debt - through an examination of actual, real-world economic relationships from throughout human history. This is a must read for anyone who wants to see through the absurdity of the modern economic system and who seeks alternatives.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashes through barriers of misconception with the greatest of ease, 4 Feb. 2012
By 
David Wineberg "David Wineberg" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
What is most striking about Debt is the overwhelming power of its numerous ideas. It is so rare that a book can hit the reader over the head with even one major new idea. I mean a world-shaking idea that upsets one's entire value system and causes the reader to reframe everything going forward. David Graeber seems to be able to do it at will.

Here are a few small points that have changed my way of thinking:

-Graeber begins by debunking the sacred Adam Smith, which he admits threatens the very foundation of economics, and that economics itself rests on the completely false foundations of Smith's unfounded and unprovable assumptions. The first clop up the side of the head is the destruction of the notion that money preceded markets and credit. He shows definitively and with total certainty that it was completely the other way around. Credit came first because there was no coinage. Markets and money, on the other hand, are side effects of governments. They cannot exist without institutional structures in place. And countries didn't appear until late in the human game. Ultimately, he says Smith was describing an ideal state, not anything that has ever existed anywhere.

-Next, Graeber swings a punch for honor. All debt seems to stem from honor. Medieval Ireland for example, was structured on a monetary system that valued the honor of various classes of people, and assigned hard goods to value them - right in law. So honor was "monetized" in hard goods. Coins had no place beside eggs and cows and slave girls. Too abstract. Too remote. Similar official valuations of honor to commodities occurred elsewhere in history too. Tellingly, the Greek word for honor is the same word for price. In other words, the very human condition of honor is possibly the single most important driver of economics. This is a delightfully radically different viewpoint.

-About the earliest evidence of the knowledge of structured debt that we have comes from 2402 BC. Money itself only appears around 600 BC, and most interestingly, it disappears again around 600 AD. Medieval societies existed without cash. Cash came back, obviously. But the question remains: is it cyclical? This gets short shrift, and only at the very end of the book.

-Money itself seems to have come into play all over the world at about the same time, and for about the same reason: to pay armies. Alexander the Great alone required half a ton of silver a day to keep his men his men. This of course became a vicious circle. More need of silver meant wider conquests, more mines, more slaves to work them, and larger armies to oversee the expanding empire. In very many ways, little has changed.

-For centuries, peasant uprisings have focused not on equality, not on an end to slavery, but the destruction of debt records. From medieval India to modern Chiapas, it is debt that causes violent dissatisfaction with life.

-Market economies and capitalist economies are not (necessarily) the same thing, or even compatible. Market economies seek to trade goods for money in order to obtain more goods. Capitalist economies use money to buy goods to make more money. Put that way, it's two different universes.

-and finally, "Capitalism cannot really operate in a world where people believe it will be around forever." I don't think I've seen a more highly charged statement in a rational context - ever.

What a fine book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myth-buster, 11 Aug. 2012
This book by David Graeber, an exceptional anthropologist, blows one of the most pervasive myths in economics, along with much else. His knowledge of human societies, past and present, is nothing short of marvellous. If you're interested in why society seems so disfunctional today, read it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History need not be bunk, Mr. Ford !, 29 Dec. 2011
The depth of Mr Graeber's erudition is only equalled by the breadth of his sweeping statements. But I find generalisations can be illuminating, and this book certainly throws light on the past in a way which few, if any, historians are prepared to risk doing ; anthropologists are clearly both fearless and philosophical. This book is not quite so easy to grasp immediately as, perhaps, other reviewers have suggested but I am sure that, unlike most books, it will be well worth reading again soon. Otherwise my reviewing predecessors have said it all, although I fear that this book will join the ranks of disregarded myth-exploders.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 points on the Richter scale, 23 Dec. 2011
By 
Pipistrel (Oxford United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is an intellectual mega-earthquake, shattering vast structures of dusty thought, leaving the teachers of the old mantras without a hole to hide in. Graeber surveys the global history of the past five thousand years, offering a new vision of debt, credit and money. He demolishes the economists' fairy stories of a barter world as the origin of 'the economy', demonstrates the intimate link between war, coinage and servitude, and shows how the use of silver and gold coins has been a relatively rare phenomenon. Capitalism, with its combination of conquest and government debt, is in fact peculiarly Western, bearing little resemblance to the merchant-driven system that prevailed further east, when the Indian Ocean was a lake of peace, uniting very different societies, protected against profiteering by the Muslim prohibition of usury. Graeber restores Aristotle's understanding that money is an abstraction, manipulated according to the conventions of the time, and he denounces the idea that the repayment of debts is a moral obligation, suggesting that we should return to the ancient practice of periodic jubilees, when all debts are cancelled. Such an institution would force bankers to be more careful with their loans, and to be content with what profits they make between jubilees. Graeber completes the demolition process so ably started by Steve Keen in 'Debunking Economics'. Together these two books suggest a foundation for new ways to organize ourselves to spare the planet and serve all that live on it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars psychology of debt, 10 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite reading many of the reviews, this book was not what I was expecting. I thought the book was about economic debt... it’s not... it’s mainly about psychology of debt. The difference is subtle but interesting.
The book is written by an academic for academic philosophers. It’s not intended for the general public, but if you’re prepared to wade through all that heavy language you will not be disappointed.
The book is an enormous storeroom of information about social history as seen through the eyes of an anthropologist rather than a historian or an economist. Each reader will extract the bits most useful and ignore the rest.
For me the book was about tribal bartering arrangements – the origins of money – why money was created – what is the purpose of money – the psychology of debt as opposed to the economics of debt – why is it considered theft to charge interest on a loan?
The book will appeal to cynics who see a world run by evil greedy people and would like to undo the social brainwashing we endure while growing up.
The book is an eye opener. The book contains few facts – the conclusions drawn are mostly those of the author. Read and decide for yourself whether the author’s conclusions are correct.
The general public will find this book hard work to read but well worth the effort.
I would have given this book five stars if it had been written in the language of the general public.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read on the origins of debt, 2 Aug. 2013
This was an interesting read. It dispels the common knowledge we have about the history of money and the role of debt and markets. It has challenged my perspective about the role of debt today. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 36 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber (Paperback - 12 Jun. 2012)
Used & New from: £11.43
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews