Public Choice (2017) 172:545–548 DOI 10.1007/s11127-017-0456-6 BOOK REVIEW Walter Scheidel: The great leveler: violence and the history of inequality from the stone age to the twenty-ﬁrst century Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2017, xv + 504 pp, USD 35.00 (cloth) Mark Koyama Published online: 18 May 2017 Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017 The topic of inequality, never ignored, has roared back into scholarly fashion following the 2008 ﬁnancial crisis and the publication of Piketty’s (2014), Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It is now hard to avoid the topic. I therefore approached Walter Scheidel’s new book with a degree of trepidation (‘‘another book on inequality… sigh’’). I shouldn’t have done so. The Great Leveler is a fantastic piece of social science. Scheidel, a classicist by training, is a true interdisciplinary social scientist, synthesizing data from modern America, medieval Europe, mid-twentieth century Spain, Republican Rome, and Communist Russia. He begins by offering a brief history of inequality. Early human societies were egalitarian. From this egalitarian base, greater inequality was an inevitable consequence of the rise of sedentary agriculture. The emergence of storable surpluses gave rise to some individuals who were not only richer than others, but able to transfer their
Public Choice – Springer Journals
Published: May 18, 2017
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