The author covers a broad set of topics and treats them well. I find the book interesting enough to continue despite awful voicing by the narrator. His "normal" voice is just fine; it's when he dips into character with other accents that it becomes a chore to listen. Please, please, please stick to the words and skip the accents!
Niall Ferguson has a definite point of view (how refreshing in this time of moral equivalance). He is definitely proud of his western heritage. He is able to give a fascinating account and analysis of the rise of the west, and worries for it's future. I enjoyed each chapter as they brought fresh insignts into historical events. He discusses connections between social, religious, and economic factors. His concluding chapter, in which he discussess civilization as a complex structure is excellent. I highly recommend this book, and this author. On to his next book.
Naill was an excellent narrator! the book to me was entertaining more than educational due the influence of Nassim Taleb on my thinking involving the legitimacy of any historical arguments of causation made after the fact.
The reader/writer don't dwell too long on any one subject or setting.
But part of that problem is that certain settings were over too quickly.
I just wanted more. But felt satisfied nonetheless.
I only wish the quoted sections weren't read in such ridiculous accents. Otherwise, terrific book.
This is compelling in much the same was as Jared Diamond's book, which this book is, in part, a response to. The ideas are interesting and well-arranged. Ferguson's enthusiasms are infectious; they also make his reading good. The performance loses a star because the accents for quotations are sometimes pretty poorly done.
I agree with the overall premise of the book, and even the conclusions, but the book itself is so meandering and rambling it is a struggle to get through it. Most of the time I found myself asking, "What does this historical story or anecdote have to do with the chapter or the point he is trying to make?" He relays many historical events, which might be very interesting in their own rights, but they seem to rarely have any relevance to the subject matter at hand! Look for the Rodney Stark book on the rise and success of the West...it is much, much better.
Ferguson delivers on laying out the ugliness of what Western Civilization has done, from slavery to genocide to Nazism. He clearly points to factors that have given Western Civilization an edge. Often by willingly or unwillingly accepting diversity without denying its own cultural heritage. I would love to see a follow up in light of recent events.