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!
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.
Yes. History is the best predictor of the future and this book lays it out perfectly.
None can compare to this one.
Best narrator ever! He really makes it come to life!
Yes. It really makes you stop and think about what's about to happen to Western civilization. History will repeat itself!
This is, by far, the best book and narrator I've experienced in my 65 years on the planet. It needs to have the widest possible exposure!
Different world perspective
Blue jeans. You need to listen to the book to get this.
The too little told story of the German genocide in Namibia.
Anyone interested in world history would enjoy this book immensely.
Personality: Intellectually Driven
The author give a very good explanations of how the western culture became to be, working very well with the intricate links of history. Some opinions where not worth giving but informative after all. Very recommended for the globalist in you!
This book, along with Guns Germs and Steel, Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, and The Human Web, can pretty well educate you as to exactly why things are the way they are. If we in the West want to stay prosperous and safe, we'll do well to pay attention to the "Killer Apps" that Ferguson talks about in the book and to jettison most of the silly stuff of which our political discourse seems to consist of these days.
I both read and listened to the book. It's not a particularly easy listen as you'll encounter lots of unfamiliar names,and some mind expanding vocabulary useage. But it's well worth the effort.
This book is non-fiction. Some of the historical persons discussed are indeed "characters" but none were made up (to my knowledge).