Anthropologist James Suzman’s magisterial examination of the role work plays in our lives reassesses everyday labour not as a necessity performed to earn money, but as something that dominates and even destroys our lives.
Alexander Lurman- The Guardian Sept 5 2021
Everyone knows that Americans have an exceptionally unhealthy relationship to work — our status, our physical health, and our daily lives depend in great part on the kind of work we do and how much of our precious time on Earth we commit to doing it. Suzman’s delightful survey of human labor — "from the Stone Age to the age of robots," as his subtitle has it — drives that fact home..
Rachel Slade- The Week Jan 2024
“Ingenious . . . All living organisms expend energy (i.e., work), but humans have transformed this with spectacular creativity that began with stone tools and led to cities, nations, and networks of energy-hungry machines. Anthropologists specialize in describing this process, and Suzman delivers a delightful account of their findings without ignoring the occasions when colleagues missed the boat . . . A fascinating history of humankind as a consumer of energy.”
—Kirkus (starred review) Nov 2020
Suzman has written a magisterial book that seeks to cover the entire tapestry of humanity’s economic life. . . .If what Suzman is saying were true, getting to post-scarcity would require not so much a policy change as a cultural revolution
Aaron Benanav- The Nation Oct 18 2021
Suzman’s talent for evoking the region’s vast and haunting landscapes, his elegiac account of a passing covenant with nature, and his warm and compassionate character sketches of individual Ju’/hoansi, make this a fascinating and at times profoundly moving work of literary non-fiction.
Ed O' Loughlin- Irish Times October 14, 2017
[A] fascinating book. . . Part-ethnography, part-memoir, this is a poignant account of a culture on the brink of extinction.
"Suzman has a breezy writing style, and . . . he has done his “homework” well. He has digested the metahistorical literature, and his general curiosity is infectious.. . . There’s a lot to be learned in this wide-ranging, ambitious book,
James C Scott American Historical Review March 2022
“Affluence Without Abundance” is not simply a description of Bushman life. Mr Suzman deftly weaves his experiences and observations with lessons on human evolution, the history of human migration and the fate of African communities since the arrival of Europeans. The overarching aim of the book is more ambitious still: to challenge the reader’s ideas about both hunter-gatherer life and human nature.”
"To know what it is like to live as people lived for most of human history, you would have to find one of the places where traditional hunting-and-gathering practices are still alive…Fortunately for us, the anthropologist James Suzman did exactly that…The news here is that the lives of most of our progenitors were better than we think. We’re flattering ourselves by believing that their existence was so grim and that our modern, civilized one is, by comparison, so great."
“An insightful and well-written book. . . Avoiding both modern conceits and romantic fantasies, Suzman chronicles how economics and politics have finally conquered some of the last outposts of hunter-gatherers, and how much humankind can still learn from the disappearing way of life of the most marginalized communities on earth.”
Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
A delightful book, full of perceptiveness and understanding. . . Suzman’s frequent reflexivity (e.g., “I never hunted with /I!ae. I was too clumsy, loud, and slow.”) makes the book far more interesting than typical accounts full of statistical detail, academic references, and the like.
-Prof Alan Barnard - Science Magazine- June 30 ,2017
This beautiful book- part memoire, part ethnography- offers a window into the lives of one of the most enduring of human cultures, the Khoisan hunters and gatherers of the Kalahari. If you have ever wondered how it might be to measure wealth not by material possessions, but by the strength of social relations between people, read this book.
-Prof Wade Davis , Samuel Johnson Prize winning Author of The Way finders and Into the Silence
This fascinating glimpse into a disappearing way of life leads Suzman to reflect on our world today: a world where wealth and possessions are valued above all other pursuits., read this book.
-Rachel Newcomb Washington Post Aug 25 2017