What was it about the civilization of Western Europe that allowed it to trump the outwardly superior empires of the Orient? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, was that the West developed six “killer applications” that the Rest lacked: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic. The key question today is whether or not the West has lost its monopoly on these six things. If so, Ferguson warns, we may be living through the end of Western ascendancy.
Civilization takes readers on their own extraordinary journey around the world – from the Grand Canal at Nanjing to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul; from Machu Picchu in the Andes to Shark Island, Namibia; from the proud towers of Prague to the secret churches of Wenzhou. It is the story of sailboats, missiles, land deeds, vaccines, blue jeans and Chinese Bibles. It is the defining narrative of modern world history.
Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation ... he writes with splendid panache (The Times )
One of the world’s leading historians (Hamish McRae Independent )
Civilization is another masterpiece ... a pulsing energy suffuses his account [and] fascinating facts burst like fireworks on every page (Dominic Lawson Sunday Times )
This is sharp. It feels urgent. Ferguson, with a properly financially literate mind, twists his knife with great literary brio. (Andrew Marr Financial Times )
A dazzling history of Western ideas (Economist )
Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson (born April 18, 1964, in Glasgow) is a British historian who specialises in financial and economic history as well as the history of colonialism. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University as well as William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and also currently the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics. He was educated at the private Glasgow Academy in Scotland, and at Magdalen College, Oxford.
The Times Higher Education noted his "pugnacious undergraduate life and debating style". In 2008, Ferguson published The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World which he also presented as a Channel 4 television series. Both at Harvard College and at LSE, Ferguson teaches an undergraduate class entitled "Western Ascendancy: The Mainsprings of Global Power from 1600 to the Present."
Ferguson is a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is a resident faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and an advisory fellow of the Barsanti Military History Center at the University of North Texas.
In May 2010 he announced that the Education Secretary in the U.K's newly elected Conservative/Lib Dem government had invited him to write a new history syllabus—"history as a connected narrative"— for schools in England and Wales.
In October 2007, Niall Ferguson left The Sunday Telegraph to join the Financial Times, where he is now a contributing editor.
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