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.
This was the first title of Ferguson's that I've finished. I thought I would like his ideas more because I learned of him through Dambisa Moyo's 'Dead Aid'.
Ultimately I found that Ferguson goes against anti-imperialist thought so strongly that he barely mentions that elements of the six "killer apps" that lead the West to succeed over "the Rest" were partly due to the immense wealth gained by western powers from their empires. I know I give myself away as a more left-leaning person with this review, but I expected this to be more even-handed than it was. His swipes against Marx and general Communism were more heavy-handed than his dealings with Hitler and the fascist leaders of history. This may be due to the way that Hitler has been described to death already, everywhere else, but it just seemed bizarre to have such heavy disdain in odd places.
Other than showing his biases too strongly at times, Ferguson does write well, and he deals with the topic of the rise of the West, just as the subtitle says he will. I'll probably listen to another, but I'll beware of his pro-imperial tendency.
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.