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Must we always repay our debts? Wasn't money invented to replace ancient barter systems?Apparently not, according to Yale-bred anthropologist David Graeber.In a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom, Graeber radically challenges our understanding of debt. He illustrates how, for more than 5000 years—long before the invention of coins or bills—there existed debtors and creditors who used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods. He argues that Madagascar was held to be indebted to France because France invaded it, reminds us that texts from Vedic India included God in credit systems and shows how the dollar changed European society forever in the sixteenth century. He also brilliantly demonstrates how words like ‘guilt', ‘sin' and ‘redemption' derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. Debt: The First 5000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—of how it has defined the evolution of human society, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.