Ferguson steps out of the realm of politics, and writes the history of civilization focusing on what works for humans--good medicine, property rights protection, the rule of law, and buying stuff, to name a few. I loved how he asked what North America and South America would look like if the opposites settled the land--the Spaniards in the North, the English in the South. His take on it was very interesting, and not what might be expected.
This is just great read. Ferguson's narration is amazing. I'm not sure if he's doing all the accented voices, but if he is, he's a born actor.
All of them. ( Well, almost: 95% )
If you think, you know pretty much about the story of Civilization, think again, because you are up to a great surprise. Niall Ferguson gives you unexpected, (lead the money), but still very exiting point of view. I am listening to the history lectures for the past 15 years, and this one is in my top 2%. My definition of the best history book is, when you just cannot put it away and always wont to have more of it.
No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.
"Civilization: The West and the Rest" is a must-read for any history buff. The book is packed with insights into culture, history, and human nature. The pacing is remarkably good (especially for a history book) and kept my interest throughout. Amusingly, there is so much emphasis put on textiles, clothing, and blue jeans in particular that I found myself thinking that a subtitle about the significant role of blue jeans in modern history wouldn't be unwarranted. However, the book covers the whole of human history with equally fascinating insights.
After listening to this book, I feel better informed about, and have a new perspective on the human world in which we live. It is both intellectually satisfying and entertaining. I highly recommend it.
With respect to the narration—usually, when an author reads his own book, it raises flags of caution, but Niall Ferguson turns out to be a top-notch narrator—in fact, one of the best I've heard. One strange thing about the audiobook, though—there are other narrators brought in from time-to-time to read quotes from historical figures. Not one of these readers approaches the high quality of Mr. Ferguson's narration, and I found myself wishing that these quotes had been read by him instead. When he retires from his teaching position at Harvard, there's a future for him narrating both fiction and non-fiction books for Audible.
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.
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.
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!