We live at a time of increasing economic inequality worldwide. Thomas Piketty brought this fact to the attention of the world in 2013 with the release of his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

One of the questions that naturally became hotly debated after Piketty was: What are the factors that can stabilize or even reduce levels of inequality? But answering this question empirically would require a deep dive into the archives of history. One would have to sift through millennia of economic data across continents and civilizations, looking at fluctuations in levels of inequality, and in particular, at the circumstances under which inequality decreases.

Our guest today took on this gargantuan task of writing a “global survey that covers the broad sweep of observable history” regarding inequality (as he puts it). Walter Scheidel is professor of classics and history at Stanford University. He is a prolific author and one of the most cited historians of Rome alive today. In 2017 he rekindled the debate about the history of inequality with the publication of his book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the 21st Century.

Stay tuned at the end of the episode for a chance to win an autographed hard cover edition of The Great Leveler.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Jeff Wright's long-awaited serial reimagining of Homer's Odyssey has finally launched! Check out "Odyssey: The Podcast" on your favorite app or listen at: odysseythepodcast.com

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