The author outlined his concepts in a clear and concise manner. The chapter headings really clarified his position and provided direction in the reading.
The medicine chapter really stood out. The impacts of tropical diseases on the progression of different civilizations left a lasting impression in my mind.
It's difficult to pick out a favorite scene in this book. The chapter on medicine was one of my favorites.
The depth at which the subject is tackled.
Niall Ferguson is a strong narrator and because it is his own book he knows just when to put the infection in a sentence. The subject is entertaining and well expressed. There is a pretty obvious bias that Mr. Ferguson acknowledges from the beginning but overall it doesn't show up too often and is not very one sided. there is allot of good history in this book.
There's a reason why professional actors read audio books. This was a great book that because very annoying because of the author's poor ability to narrate his own book. His ethnic accents were the worst and borderline insulting. Read this one, don't listen to it.
Yes. Good Material ... but don't take it too seriously. Ferguson ignores Indian civilization altogether and thus makes some obvious mistakes (e.g. Atheism is a western construct). There's also a bias here towards Christianity and the repreated "The West and the Rest" tagline can be offensive. And he really didn't need to try to appear 'tech-savvy' with terms like Killer Apps. That said, its a good book and I'd recommend it to all with the caveat that it shouldn't be taken as gospel.
I already have! He is a good writer - some biases not withstanding.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Ascent of Money" so thought I would give it a spin. "Civilization" was no disappointment. Ferguson is a great writer & makes the subject matter both accessible and engaging. Like "Ascent", I'm not sure I agree with all his conclusions but it's one hell of a ride to listen to him think about Big Issues.
That said, I have absolutely zero clue as to why the audio producers (Ferguson himself?) insisted on reading the epigrams with those silly accents. Confucius, I am quite certain, spoke no English (especially since English didn't come into existence for more than 1000 years after he died), so why even try to portray him as speaking English like Charlie Chan? Same for all the other nationalities. The French sound idiotic, the Spanish silly, and so on. I'll give a little leeway for allowing Scots to be read in their accent, but that's about it.
Normally not such a big deal, but since this book touches in part on issues of why certain civilizations have fared better than others, it smacks of provincialism, and also there's a ton of quotation that goes on.
Tantor audio editors have demonstrated on numerous recording their inability to recognize such things as faulty pronunciations of either English or foreign words. This recording takes them to another dimension of incompetence. Whoever allowed the author to be his narrator should be fired. Ferguson's petulant and even scolding voice is bad enough, but his juvenile voicing in what he thinks to be the voice of the person quoted is nothing short of an embarrassment. This is not a children's recording of Frog and Toad are Friends.
The narration is such that I find it hard to concentrate on the already shot gun approach to the text itself. Spare yourself this one.
Less bombast, more insightful thinking. His Euro-centrism is abominable. I felt I had stumbled into the 19th century through a time-warp. I guess Rudyard Kipling still lives!
Nothing by him!
Someone who reads slower and is less hysterical. His lapsing into accents from other cultures is dreadful!
good information but the heavily "accented" quotes make listening a chore during some sections of the book. I struggled to make it through these sections.
2.5 stars. This book was a puzzle for me. How did I feel about his ideas? His presentation? Is Ferguson a historian of merit or a gimmicky showboater, ping-ponging through and around his theories? I am unfamiliar with any of his other works, so can only regard his mastery over the topics in this particular book. And he does address mmmmmaaaaaannnnnnyyyyy topics, which is partly how he lost . . . a little of my interest, a little of my regard, a little of my attention, and a little of my support and agreement. (Side note about the title: I bought this book with the title Civilization: The West and the Rest, not Civilization: 6 Killer Apps. I never would have looked at it with the latter title. It irritates me even now to read it. Grrrrrr . . .)
Of course, his six stated reasons for the Western rise of the last 500 years (competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society and work ethic) all were major contributors. I totally agree with that and found some of his analyses interesting and not often pointed out in my (rather poor) history classes growing up. Society is complex. I'm sure there are many more than six reasons, though I understand the tendency towards grouping and simplification to make for a readable (and catchy) survey.
My main fault with the book centered on how well he supported those ideas. Not very, in my opinion. He skips all over, introducing ideas and dropping them a few sentences later to pursue some other thought, to a dizzying degree at times. The medicine chapter in particular seemed weak to me. I often forgot what the point of the chapter was supposed to be while in the midst of it. Nothing seemed extremely fleshed out, though he did have a lot of points to make and a reader's interest to maintain--both of which seemed to be his priority over a deeper, more thoughtful (or well explained) analysis.
I was also put off at times due to his (dis)regard for many non-Western cultures. I get that this is a book about the dominance of the Western culture over the past 500 years, and I think that it's everyone's right to express pride about the good things in their culture (and that it's an extremely hard thing to do without offending others), but I was still irritated at times about the superior way he interpreted societies, history, and current times.
When I didn't concern myself with the scholarly depth of his arguments, I often did enjoy his conversational, aggrandizing, and entertaining style. I can completely see him as a very engaging lecturer, and I'm sure his classes are well attended. I think he is capable of a much more cohesive and persuasive book of research, and I suspect his book The Ascent of Money plays much more into his strengths as a financial expert. I also did enjoy the historical tidbits he included about many parts of the world that I am unfamiliar with, and I think the book's stated focus is a worthy subject to ponder--how did our civilization rise, how did others rise, and what might we do to avoid (as long as possible?) a crash.
Despite my settling on 2.5 stars for this book, I think I'd be interested in a book of a more concentrated scope from him, and this book did renew my interest in reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, and further historical surveys.
I am also completely conflicted about him as a narrator. For the most part he is engaging, articulate and I enjoyed it completely. What gradually grew more and more on my nerves, however, were the accents he employed when quoting others. Though some were done well, that mostly drove me crazy.