"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. "
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
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.
"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."
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
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."
"Fortunately for us, the anthropologist James Suzman did exactly that: he spent more than two decades visiting, studying, and living among the Bushmen of the Kalahari, in southwest Africa. It’s a story he recounts in his new book, “Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen.”
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. Suzman’s account of the lives of Bushmen, past and present, offers plenty of fuel for thought.
New York Times
The Bushmen Who Had the Whole Work-Life Thing Figured Out- Every year automation and computerization squeeze out new segments of the labor force. In response, trade unions and workers anxiously wring their hands while savvy politicians demonize the “sinister” forces of globalization and make promises about job retention that they almost certainly won’t be able to keep.
Tsumkwe is the closest thing to a town in Namibia’s Nyae Nyae district, the epitome of remoteness in a country where almost everywhere is remote. Tsumkwe is also the capital of roughly 3,500 Ju/'hoansi, perhaps the best known of the few groups of people who continued to live as hunter-gatherers well into the 20th century.
New York Times
The mantra of the 21st century might be that the world is interconnected everywhere, but the anthropologist James Suzman knows better. For more than two decades, Suzman has researched and gotten to know various groups of Bushmen throughout southern Africa.
But “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.