One of the major works of twentieth-century anthropological theory, written by one of the discipline’s most important, complex, and controversial figures, has not been in print for several years. Now Evolution of Culture is again available in paperback, allowing today’s generation of anthropologists new access to Leslie White’s crucial contribution to the theory of cultural evolution. A new, substantial introduction by Robert Carneiro and Burton J. Brown assess White’s historical importance and continuing influence in the discipline. White is credited with reintroducing evolution in a way that had a profound impact on our understanding of the relationship between technology, ecology, and culture in the development of civilizations. A materialist, he was particularly concerned with societies’ ability to harness energy as an indicator of progress, and his empirical analysis of this equation covers a vast historical span. Fearlessly tackling the most fundamental questions of culture and society during the cold war, White was frequently a lightning rod both inside and outside the academy. His book will provoke equally potent debates today, and is a key component of any course or reading list in anthropological or archaeological theory and cultural ecology.

part One|278 pages

Primitive Culture

chapter 1|30 pages

Man and Culture

chapter 2|25 pages

Energy and Tools

chapter 3|11 pages

The Nature of Social Organization

chapter 5|16 pages

Exogamy and Endogamy

chapter 6|25 pages


chapter 9|24 pages

Economic Organization of Primitive Society

chapter 10|14 pages

Philosophy: Myth and Lore

chapter 11|4 pages

Primitive Culture as a Whole

part Two|92 pages

The Agricultural Revolution and Its Consequences

chapter 12|22 pages

The Agricultural Revolution

chapter 13|26 pages

The State-Church: ITS Forms and Functions

chapter 14|25 pages

Economic Structure of Higher Cultures

chapter 15|13 pages

Theology and Science

chapter 16|4 pages