This is a great book, emotionally narrated that helps understanding where we are and why and what comes next. Six apps is what it took for the West to take an unforeseen advantage over much more developed civilizations. But as with almost everything, the current stance is just that, a period in the history; the odds might (will?) change. Nial Fergusson is a passionate historian that helps the reader to connect the dots and bring to a new level of understanding of our common past. A must!
The liason between chpaters. Conclusion is a fabulous chapter
No, I was disappointed by this work.
Unlike "The Ascent of Money," the other work of Niall's I have read/ listened to, this work, "Civilization," seems to be more about promoting a personal agenda than facts. This is disconcerting to me, as now I'm not sure that "Money" is reputable material, either.
I have listened to / read "The Ascent of Money," written by Niall and narrated by Simon Pebble (who did an excellent job). I would recommend that work over this, however, I am concerned in regard to "Money's" validity, now, after taking in "Civilization."
This book could not be made into a movie, perhaps a documentary.
Niall's tangent about Weber's hypothesized "protestant work ethic" is far too drawn out and unnecessary as well as only weakly supportable at best. He admits this, himself, at the beginning of the rant. Something was very odd about this reading, too. I'm not sure if it was Niall doing all the narrating, but quotes are read in very poor mock accents. This detracts from the content.
This book is a fascinating examination of western civilization: its origins, strengths, and weaknesses. As Ferguson sees it, western cultures developed "6 killer applications" that allowed them to succeed as empires. While one might not agree with each and every assertion that Ferguson makes, this book will no doubt stimulate discussion and consideration of these factors. What's more this book does a very nice job taking the history out of the history book and making it relevant to modern events as well as an eye toward the future. This book is well written and interesting. I recommend it for anyone interested in history as well as the intersection of historical processes with current events.
Dick Cheney might enjoy it but it discounts large amounts of actual history and facts so that he can get his narrative to fit.
Keep his politics out of it. It permeates his writing.
Too much of the author superimposing his conclusion over cherry picked facts that suit his narrative. If you plan to read this then PLEASE make sure its not your only source for the subject in question.
This might well be a fantastic book. And I really tried hard to get through it. Niall Ferguson's voice didn't even bother me at first. But as I went on, his reading style grated on my nerves more and more until I finally had to just turn it off. And this never happens to me. Narrators (even bad ones) tend to grow on me as I listen. I'll be returning it.
This fascinating look into Western Civilization by Niall Ferguson is certain to ruffle some feathers. It is bound to raise controversy. Ferguson asks the question that can’t be asked. The question that must never be asked in our modern world: Why did Western Civilization come to dominate the rest of the world in the last 500 years? After all, five hundred years ago a betting man would have looked at puny Europe and compared it with the powerful Moslem world and the vast Chinese realm and scoffed at the idea that the Europeans would have come to dominate. What caused this? The stock answer today is colonialism. That is of course nonsense. After all the Islamic world was built oni colonialism. China was a vast empire. Why were they not ascendant?
Ferguson comes up with the answer. Western Civilization developed six concept, what he calls “killer applications” that allowed it to grow and dominate. These “killer applications” are competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic. He goes into great detail about each of these concepts, how they developed, and why the lack of these “killer applications” or their underuse lead to the other world powers drop at the same time that the West began to rise. There is some fascinating material here. I am sure that many will argue against Ferguson’s points, but the ability to debate and discus such concepts freely is itself a mark of the West.
One of the things that I like about this book is that it eschews any racial nonsense. The West did not become superior due to any superiority on the part of Western man. Rather it became superior because of it’s ideas. He shows that as nations begin to adopt these ideas they begin to grow. The ascendency in our own time of China is in many ways related to the slow acceptance of these ideas. This is an excellent book and deserves a reading.
I know people either love or hate Ferguson. I am in the former camp. I have read most of his books and find them to be very captivating. I think he is one of the best revisionist conservative history writers today.
Haven't seen the print version
The author is an expert in contextualizing developments in the world's cultures in light of their contacts or lack thereof with adjoining or distant cultures, While my college text books gave lip service to the tea road and spice as the driver for western exploration, Ferguson goes the extra mile and a half to provide the cross cultural drivers and inhibitors on all sides. A repeated theme appears; great cultures grow, become entrenched and ossified by their commercial and/or clerical leadership and become vulnerable to outside more flexible models. Japan stagnated under severe hierarchal limits and suspicion of the unknown, China should have controled all of southeast asia, but eschewed naval and territorial expansion by close-minded decree, Britain treated all subject peoples as tools, failing to recognize human value ans aspiration. Each great power carried the seed of its demise in its basic assumptions.
I started listening to Civilization in the car. I bought it last minute as I was about to drive a 9 hour car trip. Within the first 45 minutes I thought I had made a mistake. The tagline "The West and the Rest" reeks of pop culture, and the author sets out to make these grand statements which sound almost like propaganda in their presentation. As I listened I found myself asking "what about (moment in history)" or "that doesn't explain (relevant history icon)" while the author made his points. I was incredibly surprised when, like he could hear me, the author began shooting down my exceptions to his argument. By hour 4, I was enthralled. I still winced every time he managed to get "The West and the Rest" out in context or when quotations all had to be said with appropriate foreign accents, but the ideas and arguments more than made up for it. Brilliant!
Perhaps better read than heard, this lengthy narrative is overly accented - with a distinctly British bias. The author links his interesting insights and anecdotes but strains in the end to develop a unifying conclusion.