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This lost classic by famous anthropological theorist Leslie A. White, published now for the first time, represents twenty-five years of his scholarship on the anthropology of modern capitalism. Drawing out his now classic formulations of social organization, cultural evolution, and the relationship between technology, ecology, and culture, this major theoretical work traces a vast expanse of history from the earliest forms of capitalism to the detailed inner workings of contemporary democratic institutions. A substantial foreword by Burton J. Brown, Benjamin Urish, and Robert Carneiro both situates this posthumous work within the history of anthropological theory and shows its importance to contemporary debates within the discipline.