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The Great Leveler:
Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century
Walter Scheidel

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"One of the most important books on geostrategic trends to have been published in some years. . . . A dark masterpiece, and everyone who thinks about global trends should read it."--Ian Morris, Stratfor

"As a supplier of momentary relief, the Great Depression seems an unlikely candidate. . . . Yes, it brought widespread suffering and dreadful misery. But it did not bring death to millions, and in that it stands out. If that counts as relief, you can begin to imagine the scale of the woe that comes before and after. [Scheidel] puts the discussion of increased inequality found in the recent work of Thomas Piketty, Anthony Atkinson, Branko Milanovic and others into a broad historical context and examines the circumstances under which it can be reduced."--The Economist

"[Scheidel] draws on mountains of data to examine the social, economic and political forces that have been responsible for the growth of material inequality--and those that have reduced wealth. . . . Fascinating."--Glenn Altschuler, Huffington Post

"The current tome that has policy circles all abuzz."--Dave Neese, The Trentonian

"In his remarkable new book, The Great Leveler, historian Walter Scheidel shows that . . . reducing inequality has always been a miserable business. . . . Magisterial."--Ian Morris, BBC History Magazine

"A readable and quirky history of economic inequality from the great apes to the modern day. . . . It is well worth the read. It is, in a word, gripping."--Victoria Bateman, Times Higher Education

"The Great Leveler is a fascinating and informative book, and likely to become a classic--as a warning about our fate if we accept inequality as a law of nature. But now we know better."--Crawford Kilian, The Tyee

ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS:

"If you think you've heard it all about economic inequality, think again. Walter Scheidel's analysis of what really reduces inequality is provocative, but he makes the case with reason, evidence, and style."—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

"Brilliant, erudite, and chock-full of historical detail, The Great Leveler has a powerful message and asks a big question for the twenty-first century: Can we find a cure for inequality that isn't worse than the disease?"—Branko Milanovic, author of Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization

"This is the best book on the history of income inequality. And the central message is that most significant reductions in inequality come through violence and destruction. Have a nice day!"—Tyler Cowen, author of The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream

"This brilliant and thoroughly researched book solves a major paradox in the study of historical inequality. If we accept Thomas Piketty's rule that returns on capital are greater than the rate of economic growth, the 10,000 years of evolution since the Neolithic period should have resulted in all wealth becoming concentrated in the hands of a single individual or family. The Great Leveler explains why that didn't happen. A major breakthrough in our understanding of the historical dynamics of income and wealth inequality."—Peter Turchin, author of Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth

"Inequality and violence are fundamental features of human society. No one before Walter Scheidel has shown us just how closely they have been intertwined. This is a masterful new assessment of an age-old problem."—David Stasavage, coauthor of Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe

"The Great Leveler makes a convincing case."--Robert J. Gordon, author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth

"This superb, and superbly written, book justifies its profound but pessimistic conclusion that in world history inequality has declined significantly only as a result of violent changes caused by wars, state breakdown, or pandemics. It should have a huge impact on world historians and generate interesting and important debates about growing inequality in today's world."—David Christian, author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History

"Walter Scheidel offers a fascinating and powerful analysis of how worldwide income and wealth inequality have evolved from the Neolithic revolution to today. No other book on inequality has the temporal breadth or reach of Scheidel's book. And his interpretation is strikingly new."--Philip T. Hoffman, author of Why Did Europe Conquer the World?

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File created: 3/28/2017

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