The Great Degeneration by Niall Ferguson
How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

66%

5 Critic Reviews

Though the author is passionate with respect to expressing his point of view many times he is excessively combative and facile.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in The Great Degeneration, is that our institutions—the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail—are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society—these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

The Great Degeneration is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.
 

About Niall Ferguson

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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 June 13, 2013 by Penguin Books. 194 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Great Degeneration
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Jun 20 2013

The author’s apocalypse will result from conservative bugaboos, and he delivers an entertaining, often convincing polemic.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by George Melloan on Jun 19 2013

Mr. Ferguson borders on glibness when he touches lightly on such treacherous matters as income disparities and population shifts. But on the whole his intellectual virtuosity is refreshing.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Kass on Jun 13 2013

Though the author is passionate with respect to expressing his point of view many times he is excessively combative and facile.

Read Full Review of The Great Degeneration: How I... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Ray V. Hartwell III on Jul 18 2013

In “The Great Degeneration,” Mr. Ferguson has produced a succinct and insightful book about the major political and economic issues confronting our country today. He provides not only a perceptive analysis of our society’s past successes, but also a sobering diagnosis of our present and future.

Read Full Review of The Great Degeneration: How I... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Dimitri Nasrallah on Jul 05 2013

...Niall Ferguson puts forward the argument that the failure of West’s ability to recover from the great recession has less to do with simply focusing on the Band-aid solutions...and more to do with a complexity of regulation...

Read Full Review of The Great Degeneration: How I... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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Eric Brown 20 Mar 2015

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