Civilization by Niall Ferguson
The West and the Rest

72%

10 Critic Reviews

Mr. Ferguson makes one think hard about what’s going on and in that regard, this book is a valuable and highly readable excursion.
-Washington Times

Synopsis

Western civilization’s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries. All over the world, more and more people study at Western-style universities, work for Western-style companies, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and play Western sports. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed like miserable backwaters, ravaged by incessant war and pestilence. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed?

In Civilization: The West and the Rest, acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic. These were the ‘killer applications’ that allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest; opening global trade routes, exploiting new scientific knowledge, evolving representative government, more than doubling life expectancy, unleashing the industrial revolution, and hugely increasing human productivity. Civilization shows exactly how a dozen Western empires came to control three-fifths of mankind and four-fifths of the world economy.

Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western predominance are numbered because the Rest have finally downloaded the six killer apps the West once monopolized – while the West has literally lost faith in itself.

Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside the clashes of civilizations, Civilization recasts world history with verve and wit. Boldly argued but also teeming with memorable characters, this is Ferguson at his very best.
 

About Niall Ferguson

See more books from this Author
Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a senior research fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the bestselling author of "The House of Rothschild" and "Colossus,
 
Published November 1, 2011 by Penguin Books. 433 pages
Genres: History, Business & Economics, Travel. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 20 2011
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Critic reviews for Civilization
All: 10 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 4

Guardian

Above average
on Mar 25 2011

...uneven, yes, and ill-ordered, probably as a result of its derivation from the TV series...

Read Full Review of Civilization: The West and th... | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Excellent
on Oct 29 2011

Mr. Ferguson tells his story with characteristic verve...

Read Full Review of Civilization: The West and th... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Washington Times

Good
on May 14 2012

Mr. Ferguson makes one think hard about what’s going on and in that regard, this book is a valuable and highly readable excursion.

Read Full Review of Civilization: The West and th... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Globe and Mail

Above average
on Dec 23 2011

It is an alarmist conclusion that not everybody will find convincing.

Read Full Review of Civilization: The West and th... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

The Seattle Times

Excellent
on Nov 27 2011

Ferguson...lays out his observations and arguments with an erudition that is enviable in its breeziness, sweep and confidence.

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Macleans

Above average
on Nov 07 2011

The relative weights of all those factors are infinitely arguable, far more than Ferguson’s bottom-line conclusion.

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DNA

Above average
on Apr 17 2011

On the whole this is a book which presents many serious arguments, illustrating them in an entertaining way.

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National Review Online

Good
on Aug 17 2011

Ferguson is especially canny, however, on the imperial impulse that sought to make civilization universal.

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Reviews in History

Below average

Regrettably, Ferguson’s idea of the West is devoid of any pre-modern past.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Nov 18 2011

On the whole, Civilization is strongly argued. Ferguson has been criticized for giving too much credit to the West, but who else to give credit to?

Read Full Review of Civilization: The West and th... | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Civilization
67%

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