- Publisher: Allen Lane (Jan. 1 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846142733
- ISBN-13: 978-1846142734
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 4.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 662 g
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #781,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Civilization: The West and the Rest. Niall Ferguson Hardcover – Jan 1 2011
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“[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
“The author boldly takes on 600 years of world events… so that the history lesson remains fresh and compelling… A richly informed, accessible history lesson.”—Kirkus (starred) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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).
There are some minor flaws - the chapter on medicine is mostly about subjects other than medicine; the slave trade to the Americas listed as beginning in 1450, almost half a century before Columbus' voyage to the New World; and Ferguson seems curiously unscientific in his footnote musing that genetics may explain Jews' disproportionate success in arts, science and commerce - but on the whole this is an excellent, densely packed historical tour.
For those familiar with Ferguson's other works, Civilization falls somewhere between his story filled and highly readable Ascent of Money: Financial History of the World and his more academic The Pity Of War Explaining World War I. A broad, detailed canvas with the most interesting of stories laying the foundation for us to speculate about the future of western civilization and the rise of China.
Much better and more thought provoking than other, often economics oriented, books heralding the decline of the West. Civilization the television series will surely cross the Atlantic to North American viewers, just as 'The Ascent of Money' did, but read the book for its rich detail. Buy it, read it, and reflect on the future of both the West and the Rest.
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. Timely, not just because the West is currently struggling to recover from the 2008 financial crisis but, from a broader perspective, because we are very likely currently living through the ascendance of non-Western civilization(s) to join the West at the pinnacle of human culture. Competing civilizations are achieving this feat by copying what worked for the West. If we (the West) are to avoid following past civilizations into decline it behoves us to understand and uphold the reasons for our success, at least as well as those who are copying us. Dr. Ferguson takes a good step in that direction.
A worthy book. Some might understandably find it tempting to wait for the television series.
Here is the list
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.