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News, Reviews and Media

October 3, 2021 at 11:00:00 PM

The Nation

Review Essay

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 at 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 at 12:00:00 AM

GQ Magazine


"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 at 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 at 12:00:00 AM

New Yorker

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 at 12:00:00 AM

The Atlantic


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 21, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM

Irish Times


Why work more than 15 hours a week? Unthinkable: It was good enough for your ancestors, says anthropologist James Suzman

October 6, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM

Financial Times


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.

October 3, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM

The Observer Magazine


Blue sky Thinking: Anthropologist James Suzman says now is the perfect time to rein in our unsustainable work habits. But is it possible?

September 2, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM

The Economist


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 at 11:00:00 PM

Financial Times

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."

December 14, 2019 at 12:00:00 AM

Asahi Shibum


A review of Affluence without Abundance from Japan's largest daily.

April 30, 2018 at 11:00:00 PM



"Rather, it is because envy served an important, if surprising, evolutionary purpose, one that helps us to reconcile this most selfish of traits with the sociability that was so critical to the extraordinary success of our species. "

December 5, 2017 at 12:00:00 AM

The Guardian.


How Neolithic farming sowed the seeds of modern inequality 10,000 years ago.
The prehistoric shift towards cultivation began our preoccupation with hierarchy and growth – and even changed how we perceive the passage of time

December 1, 2017 at 12:00:00 AM

Washington Post

Best 50 works of non-fiction 2017

Affluence Without Abundance tops list of 50 best non-fiction books for 2017. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that that the next best 49 are in alphabetical order.

November 23, 2017 at 12:00:00 AM



Lessons from the Bushmen: How this tech-free society could foreshadow our technological future

November 3, 2017 at 12:00:00 AM

Financial Times


Affluence Without Abundance is an elegant and absorbing contribution to our knowledge of the hunting and gathering way of life, both in the present and in the recent past.

October 13, 2017 at 11:00:00 PM

Irish Times


"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."

October 29, 2017 at 11:00:00 PM



The Ju/’hoansi people of the Kalahari have always been fiercely egalitarian. They hate inequality or showing off, and shun formal leadership institutions. It’s what made them part of the most successful, sustainable civilisation in human history

October 3, 2017 at 11:00:00 PM

New Scientist


Suzman and Scott have both written excellent books, which could serve on reading lists for geography, history and politics, as well as in their natural homes of archaeology and anthropology."

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