Publication Date: 02/09/2021 ISBN: 9781526605023 Category:


James Suzman

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 02/09/2021 ISBN: 9781526605023 Category:
Paperback / Softback


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‘A fascinating exploration that challenges our basic assumptions of what work means’ – Yuval Noah Harari

‘There is eminently underlinable stuff on most pages … Fascinating’ – The Times

‘One of those few books that will turn your customary ways of thinking upside down’ – Susan Cain

‘Illuminating’ – New Statesman

A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work, from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present

The work we do brings us meaning, moulds our values, determines our social status and dictates how we spend most of our time. But this wasn’t always the case: for 95% of our species’ history, work held a radically different importance.

How, then, did work become the central organisational principle of our societies? How did it transform our bodies, our environments, our views on equality and our sense of time? And why, in a time of material abundance, are we working more than ever before?

Publisher Review

As automation threatens to completely disrupt the global job market, it is urgent to rethink the economic, psychological and even spiritual importance of work. By examining the lives of hunter-gatherers, apes and even birds, Suzman highlights that what we consider “natural” is often just the questionable legacy of industrial gurus and agricultural religions. Knowing the history of how we have spent our time in the past will hopefully enable us to make more sensible choices in the future — Yuval Noah Harari There is eminently underlinable stuff on most pages . . . Fascinating * The Times * In this illuminating “deep history”, the anthropologist James Suzman interrogates mainstream economic assumptions about human nature and argues that to make sense of our modern culture of rising inequality we must first understand our past * New Statesman * For too long, our notions of work have been dominated by economists obsessed with scarcity and productivity. As an anthropologist, James Suzman is here to change that. He reveals that for much of human history, hunter-gathers worked far less than we do today and led lives of abundance and leisure. I’ve been studying work for two decades, and I can’t remember the last time I learned so much about it in one sitting. This book is a tour de force — Adam Grant, bestselling author of ‘Give and Take’ and ‘Originals’ A groundbreaking history of work, which exposes the productivity-at-all-costs mindset to strike a blow at the myth of the economic problem. I learned something new on every page — Grace Blakeley Brilliant … I thought I had read enough by now to know what work is and why we so often feel compelled to work – but I was wrong — Danny Dorling Deeply researched, broad in scope and filled with insight, this is a modern classic. Every page brings something worth thinking hard about — Seth Godin, author of ‘Survival is Not Enough’ Automation of all kinds looms on the horizon. Luckily, James Suzman is here with a revelatory new history that makes a persuasive case: that human industry can light a path forward, even in a future where we’re put out of work by our own inventions — Charles Duhigg Chronicles how much humankind can still learn from the disappearing way of life of the most marginalised communities on earth — Yuval Noah Harari on ‘Affluence without Abundance’ Elegant and absorbing … Rich with ethnographic detail, stylish, perceptive, compassionate and, ultimately, tragic — Financial Times on ‘Affluence without Abundance’ Here is one of those few books that will turn your customary ways of thinking upside down. An incisive and original new history that invites us to rethink our relationship with work – and to reimagine what it means to be human in an ever-more automated future — Susan Cain

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