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Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
His major work, a vast study of the rise of totalitarian lifestyles and a profound affirmation of the struggle to reassert human values. One of the most significant and influential anarchic texts of the last few decades.
Paperback, 302 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Black & Red (first published 1983)
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Jan 12, 2009 Dylan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is likely the only historical survey of western civilization that I'll ever read with genuine excitement and interest, and my most naive wish after reading it was that it could become a standard introductory text for students of world history.

It goes without saying that Perlman's essay is not "objective". In other words, it is no candidate for perpetuating the business of progress, which is the unspoken agenda of "objectivity". This account of His-Story is openly disparaging of the He's whi
Aug 13, 2016 Bythedeed rated it really liked it
I'd been told by a lot of close friends with good book tastes that I should definitely read this at some point, and had tried two or three times before but couldn't get past the first few pages (Perlman quotes yeats and blake and all these other poets, and try as I might throughout the years I've never really been able to understand most poetry). So I just skipped the first three pages worth of poems, and got into it pretty fast.

Perlman does get a little heavey into the-world-was-a-wonderful-uto
Feb 07, 2012 Jay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
if you want to understand the "splinter in your mind"---this is the red pill.
Ryan Mishap
Oct 05, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, anarchy
This anthropological/historical breakdown of Leviathan (power, control) is unique and amazing. Anarchist writing at its best.
Feb 25, 2014 wombat rated it really liked it
It took me a year and a half but I finally finished Against His-Story!! Now I need to re-read it 3 times or so.
Jan 12, 2013 Ty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Holy hell. This is a fucking wild romp.
Aug 11, 2011 Shaun added it
Most of the time I was reading this, I felt like I was just pulling myself through the text because I had told myself that I would finish it. By the time I did finish it, I didn't regret the time spent - but I put it down twice as I succumbed to the allure of books with more immediate intrigue (actually I put it down the first time almost nine years ago). Overall this was a haunting essay, but one that I at least appreciated for it's voice.

I've been trying to wrap my head around Perlman's text f
birds of fire
Oct 31, 2015 birds of fire rated it it was amazing
One of those books that completely changes the way you conceptualize things, in this case the narrative of western civilization and progress which completely pervades our understanding of ourselves and our time. Perlman moves in a linear fashion through western history, beginning with the Sumerians and finishing with the eradication of the last free peoples in the Americas. Throughout, the focus is on the development of the monstrous Leviathan, which Perlman figures for civilization (after Hobbe ...more
Jun 30, 2011 Lyle rated it liked it
The book unfolded for me in three distinct sections. First, the author examines concepts of wilderness, freedom, and existing in a "state of nature". He asserts definitions for these which gave me pause and made me examine my own notions about these concepts, and I arrived at different definitions than he did. So far so good; the best type of disagreement is the kind that prompts you to discover more about your own ideas. The book goes on to introduce the overriding metaphor which will frame the ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Zac rated it really liked it
Written only a couple of years before Fredy Perlman’s death, ‘Against His-story…’ provides a simple account of the rise and fall of civilisations from the beginnings of recorded history until around the mid-19th century. With every new culture that emerges, something familiar (e.g. institutions, religion, art) appears in the world until we more or less end up with something resembling our current state. The whole narrative unfolds with a simplicity and logic that is quite tragic. However Perlman ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Sarkastodon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: most intelligent people
Perlman retells history in terms of Hobbesian "leviathan," beginning in acient Sumer, going into serious detail about the various forms of assimilation of cultures into these Leviathans (e.g. nearly every ancient civilization you can think of, from the Hittites, Phoenecians, Assyrians, etc. through the Scythians, Romans, Arabs, etc.). Particular focus is on various outcast, maroon and pirate utopia societies which existed outside the domain of certain leviathans and governmental orders (e.g. the ...more
Arduous...satisfying. Dense, but textured and sensual...beautifully written, a vibrant panoptic account of civilization. Although centered in Eurasia, Perlman remembers to check in with how the east evolves. His heavily-researched story-line--which features constant demonstrations of historical counter-attacks to Leviathan,woven in with the mournful drama of gods, spirituality, art, and mythology--has creates a tangible that has recalibrated my sense of where I stand in the history o ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Abby rated it it was amazing
So it's got no bibliography, and I can't say much for the layout. Get over it. This book was pretty rad. It's definately been awhile since I read it, so reviewing it is a tad hard. I don't think that necessarily any one person let alone group of peoples experiences can be compared, in fact I think that is a bit of a dangerous thing to do, but we can definately access similarities and patterns throughout. We can see the points at which this monster has accelerated and we can see the many and dive ...more
Nov 04, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Absolutely one of my top 5 books of all time. This should be used as a supplement in high school or college-level world history courses, to give a different (often more accurate) interpretation of how the world developed. While I don't agree with every jot and tittle of Perlman's manifesto (particularly his Leviathanic interpretation of the Old Testament), he puts much of global his-storical development into a simple framework that allows the true reasons for it to "shine through" - that is, for ...more
Jul 26, 2015 yarrow rated it it was amazing
Anybody who knows me knows that this is my favorite book of all time. Yes, it has pretty serious problems (gender essentialism, romanticism for prelapsarian cultures, etc), but if you're willing to set that aside for a moment, this is one of the most singular and visceral tales of the rise of civilization. The scathing criticisms of Marxism, science, anthropology, religion, militarism and his-story are somehow both nuanced and extremely lucid. Most people I know have struggled to get this book s ...more
Nov 17, 2007 Graham rated it it was ok
Maybe I am not familiar enough with ancient civilizations to 'get' this book, but as far as i can tell, an argument against agriculture can be made in much less space. I found this to be poorly written and at times extremely dull. Anyone can go on and on about the problems that plague civilization and the modern world, but people who do it well do it with wit, something that this author seems incapable of. I never liked a guru and this guy is one of the worst.
Jan 05, 2008 Burkey rated it really liked it
i enjoyed this book, kind of. i think the imagery and style of writing, writing a stylized history in the vein of oral traditions, is an interesting idea. it is at times extremely laborious, but does include a blake lithograph at the beginning of each chapter, which at least proves good taste. if you arent already interested with this whole anti-civ argument, this probably is not the place to start. if you are, you may want to add it to your list.
Artnoose Noose
Jun 14, 2011 Artnoose Noose rated it really liked it
I can see why a lot of people I know couldn't get through this book. There are a lot of references to ancient history, and if you for example don't remember from high school history who the Etruscan were, or why there were at one time two Popes, or where the Byzantium Empire was, you might get lost.

If you've tried to read this and haven't finished, try again.
Jan 06, 2016 Dan added it
Really great to start, but then becomes just an unending summary of history through a different lens that's just so rapid-fire and out of context that nothing really registered. So I gave up a quarter of the way in, but absolutely took something important away from the first 100 pages.
Feb 14, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing
The only history book you will ever need. A comprehensive look at the meaning behind human history as told by Leviathan's priests and prognosticators. Finally, an honest appraisal of the threads that bind this story together and connect its events.
Jeffrey Bumiller
Jun 05, 2014 Jeffrey Bumiller rated it really liked it
My only problem with this book is that it contains no references. What's up with that? It's a difficult book, unless you are an expert on ancient civilizations, and more importantly, those who resisted against them.
Jun 05, 2013 Kerie rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely brilliant and amazing. It is by far the best history and critique of civilization I've read to date. If I could give this more stars I would.
Nov 26, 2015 0 marked it as will-finish-later
a strange book. a counter-history? a myth that is aware of itself as such? either way, i'm bad at narratives. will read "later"
Dec 26, 2009 Raleigh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This poetic critique of civilization is truly spectacular. I recommend this to anyone who wants to understand history from a birds-eye perspective.
Steve Welzer
Dec 10, 2014 Steve Welzer rated it it was amazing
It's a mytho-poetic explication of what freedom is and is not. Life here in 1491 was free. Then Leviathan culture started to encroach.
Feb 08, 2008 Jason rated it liked it
Fucking splendid.
A long chronology of a 10,000 year string of failed civilizations up to our current Civilization which like all, flawed too, will ultimately be doomed like the rest. Read it!
Chris rated it it was amazing
Apr 06, 2016
Mac #swag
Mac #swag rated it it was amazing
Dec 15, 2013
Me rated it really liked it
Mar 08, 2012
Jeff rated it it was amazing
May 16, 2009
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Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an author and publisher. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, is a major source of inspiration for anti-civilisation perspectives in contemporary anarchism.

Childhood and youth

Perlman was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. He emigrated with parents to Cochabamba, Bolivia in 1938 just ahead of the Nazi takeover. The Pe
More about Fredy Perlman...

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“The Romans learn Art from their Greek slaves, but they learn reluctantly. They are almost Modern in their reluctance; they are almost ready to say that a killing machine is beautiful if it works. They are not quite that modern, and they let Greek craftsmen conceal the brutal militarism with Architecture, Sculpture and Painting. They learn Aesthetics, that strange ability to see in blood gushing from a wound only the beauty of the shape and color.” 0 likes
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