News, Reviews and Media
October 3, 2021, 11:00:00 PM
James Suzman. . . asks whether we might learn to live like our ancestors did—that is, to value free time over money. Answering that question takes him on a 300-millennium journey through humanity’s existence.
June 28, 2021, 11:00:00 PM
New York Times
Ezra Klein Interview and Podcast
James Suzman is an anthropologist who has spent the last 30 years living with and studying the Ju/’hoansi people of southern Africa, one of the world’s enduring hunter-gatherer societies. And that project has given him a unique lens on our modern obsession with work.
February 1, 2021, 12:00:00 AM
"During a pandemic, when we’ve all been forced to reconsider the givens of our work-crazed culture, and to reckon with the economic inequality and environmental degradation it has wrought, Suzman isn’t just showing what life was like before. He’s also putting forth an idea of what it could still be."
March 19, 2021, 12:00:00 AM
Wall St Journal
"In “Work” Mr. Suzman takes the long view, plotting the transition from the feeding frenzies of our simian ancestors to the sufficient-unto-the-day political economy of hunter-gatherers that kept going for 95% of the history of Homo sapiens."
January 11, 2021, 12:00:00 AM
Review Essay by Jill Lepore
Suzman’s answer is at once anthropological and historical, and it has to do with agriculture. “For 95 per cent of our species’ history,” Suzman writes, “work did not occupy anything like the hallowed place in people’s lives that it does now.”
January 1, 2021, 12:00:00 AM
But what Suzman’s foray into humanity’s past reveals is that leisure has never been the ready default mode we may imagine, even in the chillest of cultures. The psychological cost of civilization, the scourge of the Sunday scaries, and the lesson of the Ju/’hoansi converge in an insight worth taking to heart: Safeguarding leisure is work.
October 6, 2020, 11:00:00 PM
Suzman explores a vast terrain: termites creating “intergenerational social communities”, social anthropology, the arrival of agriculture (in which prosperity was “fleeting, and scarcity evolved from an occasional inconvenience that foragers stoically endured . . . to a near perennial problem”), the Industrial Revolution, and the rise and demise of the company man.
September 2, 2020, 11:00:00 PM
The study working life tends to be dominated by economists, management consultants and business-school professors. So it is nice to get a new perspective. James Suzman, an anthropologist, provides that fresh appraisal in an ambitious new book called “Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time”.
August 27, 2020, 11:00:00 PM
James Suzman Op-Ed
"The economic trauma induced by the pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to reimagine our relationship with work and to re-evaluate what jobs we consider really important."