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The credit crisis has pushed the whole world so far into the red that the gigantic sums involved defy understanding. On a human level, what does such an enormous degree of debt and insolvency mean? In this timely book, cultural critic Richard Dienst considers the financial crisis, global poverty, media politics and radical theory to parse the various implications of a world where man is born free but everywhere is in debt.

Written with humor and verve, Bonds of Debt ranges across subjects—such as Obama’s national security strategy, the architecture of Prada stores, press photos of Bono, and a fairy tale told by Karl Marx—to capture a modern condition founded on fiscal imprudence. Moving beyond the dominant pieties and widespread anxieties surrounding the topic, Dienst re-conceives the world’s massive financial obligations as a social, economic, and political bond, where the crushing weight of objectified wealth comes face to face with new demands for equality and solidarity. For this inspired analysis, we are indebted to him.

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