The Dawn of Everything

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike – either free and equal, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a reaction to indigenous critiques of European society, and why they are wrong. In doing so, they overturn our view of human history, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery and civilization itself.

Drawing on path-breaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we begin to see what’s really there. If humans did not spend 95 per cent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume.

The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision and faith in the power of direct action.

‘Pacey and potentially revolutionary’ Sunday Times

‘Iconoclastic and irreverent … an exhilarating read’ The Guardian

‘Boldly ambitious, entertaining and thought-provoking’ Observer

‘This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast’ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

© David Graeber, David Wengrow 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • A boldly ambitious work … entertaining and thought-provoking … an impressively large undertaking that succeeds in making us reconsider not just the remote past but also the too-close-to-see present, as well as the common thread that is our shifting and elusive nature.

    Observer
  • What a gift … Graeber and Wengrow offer a history of the past 30,000 years that is not only wildly different from anything we’re used to, but also far more interesting: textured, surprising, paradoxical, inspiring.

    The Atlantic
  • Iconoclastic and irreverent … an exhilarating read … As we seek new, sustainable ways to organise our world, we need to understand the full range of ways our ancestors thought and lived. And we must certainly question conventional versions of our history which we have accepted, unexamined, for far too long.

    The Guardian
  • Pacey and potentially revolutionary … This is more than an argument about the past, it is about the human condition in the present.

    Sunday Times
  • A fascinating, radical, and playful entry into a seemingly exhaustively well-trodden genre, the grand evolutionary history of humanity. It seeks nothing less than to completely upend the terms on which the Standard Narrative rests … erudite, compelling, generative, and frequently remarkably funny … once you start thinking like Graeber and Wengrow, it’s difficult to stop.

    Boston Review
  • A spectacular, flashy and ground-breaking retelling of human history, blazing with iconoclastic rebuttals to conventional wisdom. Full of fresh thinking, it’s a pleasure to read and offers a bracing challenge on every page.

    BBC History

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.