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Civilization: The West and the Rest Hardcover – Nov 1 2011


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Civilization: The West and the Rest + The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die + The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition edition (Nov. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203053
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.6 x 23.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“[Ferguson] uses his powerful narrative talents in these pages to give the reader a highly tactile sense of history. … The author [has a] knack for making long-ago events as vivid and visceral as the evening news, for weaving anecdotes and small telling details together with a wide-angled retrospective vision” – New York Times

“A dazzling history of Western ideas” –The Economist

“Mr. Ferguson tells his story with characteristic verve and an eye for the felicitous phrase.” – Wall Street Journal

“[W]ritten with vitality and verve… a tour de force.” –Boston Globe

“This is sharp. It feels urgent. Ferguson, with a properly financially literate mind, twists his knife with great literary brio…Ferguson ends by suggesting the biggest threat is not China but ourselves – our cowardice, drawn from ignorance, even stupidity, about our past. He is right. But as he shows himself, that can be fixed.” –The Financial Times

About the Author

NIALL FERGUSON  is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the bestselling author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, and High Financier. He also writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world.

 www.niallferguson.com

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ian Robertson TOP 100 REVIEWER on Jan. 5 2012
Format: Hardcover
Prolific Oxford, Harvard and Stanford professor Niall Ferguson continues his excellent string of publications with a well researched and erudite tour of the past 500 years of western civilization. The book is very, very detailed (over 700 end notes, plus a 30 page bibliography), but extremely readable. Its many facts are both interesting and woven together logically and chronologically to support a central thesis - that the West has predominated because it developed six killer apps: competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic.

Not just another book trumpeting the West's superiority, Ferguson highlights the West's good luck as well as it's superior political and economic structure. He notes the West's willingness to have its killer apps downloaded by other countries, which will mean more wealth for all but also a change in the balance of power.

Like all history books, the content is filtered through the author's particular lens - in this case a right wing, British Empire loving polymath and wit - but Ferguson is thorough in supporting his thesis, confronting other historians' theories and mistakes head-on, and documenting his own views with ample political, economic and cultural references and a fair amount of humour. The prolific references range from esoteric to pop-cultural (e.g. Sid Meier's Civilization V computer game).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RondoReader on March 22 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As with the `Ascent of Money' and previous books by Dr. Ferguson, Civilization was conceived from the start as both a television series and a book. One senses exactly where the adverts will be inserted and cringes slightly at the theatrical flair (e.g. "born again" morphed into "porn again"). The upside is the story moves along at a good clip without getting bogged down in excessive details or alternate interpretations. The downside is frequently being left hungry for greater substantiation. For example, at one point Dr. Ferguson acknowledges some historians attribute Great Britain's rise to global supremacy to an early start with the industrial revolution but maintains the real reason was the systems developed to amass and invest capital. While that seems plausible it would be more convincing with some evidence and discussion to back up the statement.

The stated purpose for Dr. Ferguson's book is revealing the "six killer apps" that account for Western dominance but he strays, not infrequently, to a more general look at Western history. Case in point: while he describes medicine as "the West's most remarkable killer application" the chapter devoted to medicine spends more time examining the French revolution and subsequent imperialism than on the supposed subject of the chapter.

One of the more interesting revelations and one that Dr. Ferguson examines in greater detail is the importance of the Protestant Ethic to the West's success and the surprising widespread adoption of Christianity in Asia, particularly China. For me, this section alone was worth the price of admission.

Despite the minor shortcomings the book is attention-grabbing, readable and timely.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Sullivan TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 23 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ferguson sets out to explain how and why, Western Civilization became the world`s dominate force. Ferguson also outlines, why other areas of the globe remained an economic backwater. Ferguson boils down the last five hundred years of western success, to a list of six essential components.

Here is the list
1)Competition
2)Science
3)Property
4)Medicine
5)Consumption
6)Work

Each ingredient has its own chapter. Ferguson then takes the reader through various historical lessons. These historic episodes help the reader understand, how these listed factors applied to western success. Some of the history will be very familiar to reader. I am also willing to bet, most readers will also discover a few new areas of history, that Ferguson uncovers.

The conclusion of the book is all about how other countries, have started to apply western methods of success. Will the rise of strong Asian economies eclipse the growth of the west?

This book should really be part one of a series. Part two could be all about how current western societies, have moved away from the six factors of economic prosperity.

One caution I may make to a prospective reader of this book. The over all theme is a somewhat Libertarian message. This will be the deciding factor, in your potential enjoyment of the book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 7 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have always admired Ferguson as one of those few historians who offers his readers a very balanced, big-picture context for understanding the lessons a study of history might teach us. To get to that level of appreciation, Ferguson, in honour of an earlier great historian, suggests that the events of the past have a very instructive way of re-appearing in the present in order to point us to the future. To enforce this point, Ferguson focuses this comparative study on how western civilizations - those large cultural units in time and space - have come to dominate the modern world scene, and how they are now facing a very uncertain future based on a growing competition from new global forces. If the West is seen through the lenses of progress, Ferguson has news for us his readers. All is not rosy. To get where they are today, western nations like Britain, the US, France and Germany have had to use all kinds of competitive concepts to assert their superiority: war, industrialization, capitalism, science, intellectual property, democracy, and exploration. Along the way, the results of modernization have at best been mixed. With a succession of financial crisis, the expansion of global economy, and the growing failure of military technology to secure social and political stability may suggest that the world is about to undergo a major historical shift from west to east. The West's ability to design, order and control its future is very much in doubt, given the fact that other cultures are looking for their place in the sun and may have the means to achieve it: capital, education, population, and technology.Read more ›
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