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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the international best-seller Debt: The First 5,000 Years comes a revelatory account of the way bureaucracy rules our lives. 

From where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?   

To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber - one of our most important and provocative thinkers - traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice...though he also suggests there may be something perversely appealing - even romantic - about bureaucracy.    

Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible.   

An essential work for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us - and the better, freer world we should perhaps begin to imagine for ourselves.

©2015 David Graeber (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about The Utopia of Rules

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Very Insightful

I love when an author is able to show you the world from a different perspective then what is taught in schools. His thought provoking insights will become classics in the next generation. Thank you David!

7 people found this helpful

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Not his most serious book, but still really great

Graeber is best known for his academic tome, Debt, and perhaps second-best for his more popular book, Bullshit Jobs. If you're into either of those books, you should read this book as a kind of follow-up. If you haven't read Debt or BSJ, I'd recommend starting with them first. Graeber applies the lessons of those books here, with some fascinating and insightful detours into pop culture (e.g., the capitalist symbols inherent in action movie heroes).

6 people found this helpful

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Incredible

The courage and insight of Mr Graeber, for me at least, produced an almost disorienting stream of revelation.

An indispensable work for anyone choosing to look upon the world as it is.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent, mind-expanding

Not just about bureaucracy!! I particularly enjoyed the final chapter on the Nolan Batman films - what a ridiculous reactionary mess they were - and how Graeber is able to link these to the overall assumptions of the comic book genre and associated political implications. In each chapter Graeber is able to illuminate aspects of culture and the underpinnings of law. This book is above all else just plain fun to read.

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Good book, until the last chapter

This was a little dry, but otherwise fascinating critique of institutional rules. There were lots of interesting insights along the way, and the book peaked in the middle, but it went off the rails in the last chapter analyzing Batman and Bane (and presumably, Christopher Nolan’s politics).

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Graeber Understands our Times

The included essays provide insight into our current social conditions through anthropology and philosophy. Graeber synthesizes various sources to decode modern experiences.

The narration is relatively well-performed, with some mild pronunciation errors.

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Mandatory lecture

No matter where on the political spectrum you stand, this should be mandatory lecture in schools.

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Hate forms and lines? read this book!!

Explains complex theories of societal relations and perhaps how to change them, through something we experience (and get irritated by) everyday: forms, lines, rules. The range of essays are both entertaining and thoughtfully accessible in good plain language. I feel like this writer has the reader's learning and best interests in mind, not merely to show off his intellectual aptitude.

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eye opening commentary

use of popular culture references ease the otherwise complex constructs the author tries to illustrate, yet at times felt illusive still and feels a bit left out at times. but the books wraps up quiet nicely towards the end with the supplement essay

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it owns

owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns owns real good and it rules, yup.

1 person found this helpful