Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)
Comments: There are a few special books that change our perspective by telling us the story of our past. “A Splendid Exchange” and “Guns, Germs, and Steel” do so from the lens of trade and conquest. “The Accidental Superpower” views the past from the lens of changing superpowers. “Sapiens” does so from the lens of human evolution. And, “Debt” does so from the lens of… well.. debt.
With every one of these books, we may not agree with everything the author says. That’s expected when you’re attempting to synthesize thousands of years of human history. But, these books are worth reading because understanding what came before us helps put into context what we’re experiencing today.
And, every once in a while, they also helps provide clues about what might lie ahead. History doesn’t repeat but it often rhymes.
Insights that resonated:
1. The notion that money began because of barter is a myth. Barter is simply a logical sounding story made up by economists. To understand money, we need to look at credit/debt.
2. It is fascinating how there were similar arcs of progress in different places around the world. As different as these people and places were, there were still strong similarities in the way civilization progressed.
3. While luck plays a massive role in our lives (determines ~70% of our outcomes by my estimation) today, that role was even arguably larger (>90%) in the past. If you were born in the wrong family, you were stuck, screwed, or likely to die a brutal death.