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

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Princeton University Press, Sep 18, 2018 - History - 528 pages
Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that it never dies peacefully. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world. The “Four Horsemen” of leveling—mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues—have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future. An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent—and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
 

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User Review  - pomonomo2003 - LibraryThing

Important and Depressing. The Necessity of Violence In known History, according to our author Walter Scheidel, peaceful redistribution has never succeeded in lessening inequality of wealth. Now, the ... Read full review

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What a great book! Author knows well the terror of communism in China and Vietnam. Shocking but truthful. A very sophiticated book analyzing how the communists brutally suppressed and killed innocent people, per example during Land Reforms in China and Vietnam. Thank you Mr Walter Scheidel. This book should be college textbook to teach naiive American people. People must understand well communism/socialism and protect Freedom in USA.
(Mary Nguyen)
 

Contents

The Challenge of Inequality
1
PART I A BRIEF HISTORY OF INEQUALITY
23
PART II WAR
113
PART III REVOLUTION
211
PART IV COLLAPSE
255
PART V PLAGUE
289
PART VI ALTERNATIVES
343
PART VII INEQUALITY REDUX AND THE FUTURE OF LEVELING
403
The Limits of Inequality
445
Bibliography
457
Index
495
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About the author (2018)

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy-Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University. The author or editor of seventeen previous books, he has published widely on premodern social and economic history, demography, and comparative history. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

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