Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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An account of all the new and surprising evidence now available for the beginnings of the earliest civilizations that contradict the standard narrative
Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains and governed by precursors of today's states? Most people believe that plant and animal domestication allowed humans, finally, to settle down and form agricultural villages, towns, and states, which made possible civilization, law, public order, and a presumably secure way of living. But archaeological and historical evidence challenges this narrative. The first agrarian states, says James C. Scott, were born of accumulations of domestications: first fire, then plants, livestock, subjects of the state, captives, and finally women in the patriarchal family - all of which can be viewed as a way of gaining control over reproduction.
Scott explores why we avoided sedentism and plow agriculture, the advantages of mobile subsistence, the unforeseeable disease epidemics arising from crowding plants, animals, and grain, and why all early states are based on millets and cereal grains and unfree labor. He also discusses the "barbarians" who long evaded state control, as a way of understanding continuing tension between states and nonsubject peoples.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 35 minutes|
|Author||James C. Scott|
|Narrator||Eric Jason Martin|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||21 February 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 9,524 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
12 in Prehistoric Archaeology
17 in Asian History (Audible Books & Originals)
18 in Evolution (Audible Books & Originals)
Review this product
Top reviews from other countries
Well written - seemed easier to read than his similarly brilliant “Seeing like a State”.
Notes on my scoring
5* - I will read again
4* - you should read it
3* - I’m glad I read it
2* - I wish I hadn’t read it
1* - I wish it had never been written
This challenge is summarised by the title of the final chapter "The Golden Age of the Barbarians". The weaknesses in early small civilised communities are fascinating and their dependency on slave or forced labour puts a historical perspective on our current debates about slavery. This is a book which is accessible to the non-specialist like myself and very enjoyable. My only reservation is that the repetition of the arguments later in the book takes away from the energy of the book.