JMC fellow Brandon Turner wrote a review of Walter Scheidel’s The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century in the Law and Liberty Libary.
The Rich You Will Always Have With You
Walter Scheidel’s The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century is, in all the ways that matter, a very big book. Its scope is nothing less than the entire arc of human civilization, from its prehistory in the hierarchies of bonobos and other primates, to the emergence of agriculture and the first states, to the great wars of the 20th century.
Scheidel’s subject is material inequality, its development over time, and the ways in which it can be effectively countered. It is this last part that most concerns him, and his findings will give anyone interested in the dynamics of inequality—or, for that matter, anyone interested in the long-term viability of stable liberal democracies—plenty to think about. Given its aims, the book’s length—a mere 500 pages!—seems modest in comparison.
Dr. Brandon Turner is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, where he works in political theory. He earned his B.A. from Miami University of Ohio (2004), and his M.A.and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2008). He is currently revising a manuscript titled Antagonism in the Liberal Tradition. He previously taught for one year at Wake Forest University. His research interests are in the history of modern political thought, particularly British liberal thought, as well as theories of republicanism.
Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and the Catherine R. Kennedy and Daniel L. Grossman Fellow in Human Biology. Scheidel’s research focuses on ancient social and economic history, with particular emphasis on historical demography, labor, inequality, and state formation. He is interested in comparative and transdisciplinary approaches to the study of the premodern world, and has been trying to build bridges between the humanities, the social sciences, and the life sciences.
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