Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea

The definitive history of the idea of equality—and why we’re so ambivalent about it 


Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

“Sweeping … thought-provoking … keenly reasoned,”

Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post

Equality is in crisis. Our world is filled with soaring inequalities, spanning wealth, race, identity, and nationality. Yet how can we strive for equality if we don’t understand it? As much as we have struggled for equality, we have always been profoundly skeptical about it. How much do we want, and for whom?  

Darrin M. McMahon’s Equality is the definitive intellectual history, tracing equality’s global origins and spread from the dawn of humanity through the Enlightenment to today. Equality has been reimagined continually, in the great world religions and the politics of the ancient world, by revolutionaries and socialists, Nazis and fascists, and postwar reformers and activists. 

A magisterial exploration of why equality matters and why we continue to reimagine it, Equality offers all the tools to rethink equality anew for our own age.