Against the Grain
An Economist Best History Book 2017
"History as it should be written."-Barry Cunliffe, Guardian
"Scott hits the nail squarely on the head by exposing the staggering price our ancestors paid for civilization and political order."-Walter Scheidel, Financial Times
Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on…
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Why read it?
2 authors picked Against the Grain as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
Scott takes us through the evidence of the earliest hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies and asks why anyone ever allowed rulers to amass power and centralize control of resources. The evidence is that farmers flourished for centuries without letting anyone lord it over them. Why, then, does agriculture seem to have led to the rise of the state? Readable and compelling, Scott's latest book makes a really convincing case against the benefits, and inevitability, of the state.
From Fernanda's list on making us rethink global history.
Scythians and other nomad peoples are often studied and framed as a foil to sedentary societies, with the latter held up as further step along a path of “progress”. Against the Grain completely upends this notion, framing early states (the sedentary counterparts to nomadic people) as unnatural and authoritarian, and nomadic lifestyles as attractive alternatives. While not a study of the Scythians, specifically, this book is an important counterpoint to the sedentary-states-are-better framework that has characterized much discussion on Scythians.
From David's list on understanding the Scythians.
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