In his new book, Walter Scheidel offers a simple, though jarring, story of how past societies struggled with inequality. The Great Leveler is a cautionary tale to policy makers who believe in economic redistribution as a means to level the playing field. A professor of ancient history at Stanford University, Scheidel’s thesis unfolds in the following way: economic inequality is always terrible and disruptive. We should be worried that vastly disproportionate increases in wealth in twenty-first-century America approach something analogous to the high Roman empire or the unchecked roaring twenties in the United States.

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century
by Walter Scheidel
Princeton University Press

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