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.
insightful, unusual, stimulating
doesn't get bogged down
no - but perfect for falling asleep
Really enjoyable bedtime listen - lulls me to sleep in an informative way.
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.
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.
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.
I like books that have interesting characters and easy to follow plots. For example, Cormoran Strike, is a great character for me.
First, I must say that I love the way Niall Ferguson reads this book. On top of that, he makes an excellent argument for why the Western Civilization predominates. Just as scary is his contention that our "king of the hill" status is sliding away. I learned more about world history in the 11 hours than listening to almost any other book I heard. When he describes Western Europe in the 14th century, it is mind boggling that they took over the world. His contention that turning inward and restricting the rest of the world influence is the key to the fall of a great civilization. It is particularly relevant to our times in the US. Our xenophobia is literally setting us up for a fall. My suggestion for interested readers is to listening to the book, "Debt:a history". After these two books, any intelligent person will have a firm understanding of where we've come from and where we're heading as a people. It's hard to not buy into the belief that homo sapiens are essentially war mongers. When watching the movie, "Chronicles of Riddick," it is hard not to think the US is not turning into Necromongers.
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.
Read by the author, this historical account is very Western-centric. The narrator employs accents that mimic racial stereotypes when reading quotes from figures such as Che Guevara (read like Speedy Gonzales), and claims the predominance of Western culture over the last 500 years or so is due to superior religion, politics, fashion and individualism. It's not an especially interesting take, but does shed some insight into the origins of privilege.
What is it about Western civilization that has enabled it to surpass and stay ahead of its eastern counterpart? Niall Ferguson's book attempts to answer his question but naturally a somewhat brief overview of a very complicated and complex issue is what we're left with. There are many interesting insights that Ferguson offers, however, even if one can quibble with certain conclusions he ends up drawing.
As far as the narration goes, Ferguson is very good but whoever does the voice for Bolivar, Freud, and the assorted other national icon manages to butcher the accent of just about all of them.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Civilization: The West and the Rest, by Niall Ferguson, is highly recommended as a do not read and waste your time. Yes, I know I am going against the predominant grain of highly recommended reviews by other readers. I just do not know what they saw in the publication to rate it so well. Maybe because he has Oxford, Harvard and Stanford in his résumé and is popular ever since he wrote Henry Kissinger's biography it is believed whatever he does is superlative. Well, in Civilization, he failed to make the grade as far as I am concerned.
This is not a Kenneth Clark analysis of fine art, rather this is an attempted explanation why national powers came into being, fell out of being and where we –Western Civilization- might stand someday. It is not an organized study but rather a Hodge podge of what Ferguson thinks he should talk about to prove his point that civilization is where 1) we have competition, 2) the sciences are advanced, 3) property rights are protected, 4) medicine advances, 5) we have a consumer society, and 6) the society is endowed with a positive work ethic – literally as per Ferguson – God Bless Protestantism. Perhaps his values for judgement are not without worth but his analysis is a bore as there is no exploration just his citing facts about his six criteria to show or demonstrate his six criteria were obviously present in all former and to come societies. Along the way he advises the USSR would have prevailed should we have had a nuclear war as its backward ways would mean they would better survive the limited state of the earth. That is the breath of his analysis in supporting his six factors.
Well I thought his six categories would be interesting to review with his insights. They may be very good items to consider in reviewing civilization, but as for their presentation in this book, they were not interesting. It was a struggle to get through the book although items five and six were more interesting than one through four. My advice find other readings.