In 2017 half of the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1% of the population. In his new book, The Great Leveler Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press, 2017), Walter Scheidel explores economic inequality and sets forth the provocative thesis that only violence and catastrophes have truly reduced it throughout history. Scheidel delves in what he labels as the “Four Horsemen” of leveling–mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues–and how they have persisted in history and proved the most efficient ways in reducing what seems to be an inevitable trend in human history. Walter Scheidel teaches at Stanford University. The interview is part of a series produced by Crisis, Extremes, and Apocalypse Research Network at Oxford University and the New Books Network. Audrey Borowski is a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. She is also the founder and lead convener of the ‘Crisis, extremes and Apocalypse’ Research.