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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hubris haunts the old wild West
This 6-part TV series should be seen within the context of one thesis or hypothesis - namely, that the West is losing its global supremacy due to other nations copying it and by turning its back on its formula for success. In that sense, these 2 DVD's are thought-provoking. Of course, a massive topic like this can only be dealt with in terms of snapshots and anecdotes,...
Published 10 months ago by LXIX

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit superficial and has digressions
I decided to watch this series a second time just recently, but, having just watched the episode about medicine, have decided to stop. It is an accessible, interesting and engaging series, but Ferguson digresses while also failing to address the topic in sufficient depth. At the beginning of the series he states that one of his main aims is to discuss why and how Western...
Published on 21 Mar 2012 by the Knight


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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent documentary, 18 Jan 2014
By 
E. M. Martin "itseduardo" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
very well exposed history of the western civilization.

the 5th episode is a bit diferent with a shoking point of view, which seems pointless firstly, but after thinking a bit, it made sense.

highly recomended to understand political and economical society of our global society
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2.0 out of 5 stars Observations, 17 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
Interesting DVD, at times too many details but much appreciated.
Subject is of interest in todays debate, gives the author's views and perspectives
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5.0 out of 5 stars Is the west history, 15 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
Very professional and at the same time entertaining. I recommend this DVD for anyone who is interested in economic history.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the West history? Probably not, because ..., 20 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
"And yet as I stand here in Shanghai in the smog, I can't help feeling that Western civilization still has the edge .... And it's that freedom that's most likely to unlock the human creativity we need to solve the world's problems in the 21st century." This is from his comment in the concluding scene of the TV series. This is good judgment, not politically correct for correctness' sake, and not apologetic. Every one of us speaks from one's own ethno-cultural self.

An essential element of why Western civilisation has been prevailing is language, that is, the English language with its universalising power. Take the World Wide Web -- which is making this short writing visible -- as an example. If it were not an English invention of Sir Tim while in Europe, would it have become a worldwide success? I think if the Web had been an invention of an East Asian country, it would have stayed within that East Asian country until some good person cares to translate and transplant it, via the English language.

For the reason above, my mother tongue is my mother tongue, Hong Kong Cantonese. It may be the last stand for being Chinese. So, I am proud of the vertical text direction of written Chinese, uniquely indigenous, and yet as natural as human beings standing upright. Fortunately the early Chinese had this invention, without having to thank any Western alphabets for a written script that facilitates cultural transmission. At the same time, my mind can be very open by learning other languages like English and Japanese, for example, and know more of civilisations.

And Chinese characters have had tremendous impact on East Asia and even Southeast Asia. Though grammatically very different from Chinese, Japanese language could not have been written without Chinese, and the Korean hangeul -- invented in the 15th century -- might have been inspired by the angular strokes of Chinese characters. Difficult to write? All foreign languages are difficult to foreigners.

Professor Ferguson noted, in Episode 5, that in Istanbul the female head scarf is in favour again. There is actually a world trend of non-Western cultures upholding their respective identities. Burma has become Myanmar; Bombay is now Mumbai; Seoul in Chinese characters is now "Shou'er" and not "Hancheng" (literally, Chinese City). In terms of culture, Korea takes much pride in her Hangeul alphabet; Japan has more interest in her national spirit (Yamato-damashi); and even in the PRC Confucius has returned.

Related reading: Headley, John M. The Europeanization of the World: On the Origins of Human Rights and Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, c2008.
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23 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another important series from Niall Ferguson, 6 Mar 2011
By 
P. Finglas - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
Introduction to the Series

FEATURES

BY NIALL FERGUSON
In this series, I want to show that what distinguished the West from the Rest - the mainsprings of global power - were six identifiably novel complexes of ideas and behaviours. For the sake of simplicity, I summarise them under six headings:

1. Competition

2. Science

3. The Rule of Law

4. Medicine

5. Consumerism

6. The Work Ethic

To use the language of today's computerised, synchronised world, these were the six 'killer applications' - the killer apps - that allowed a minority of mankind originating on the western edge of Eurasia to dominate the world for the better part of 500 years.

Now, before you indignantly write to me objecting that I have missed out some crucial aspect of Western ascendancy, like capitalism or freedom or democracy, or for that matter guns, germs and steel, please read the following brief definitions:

1. Competition - a decentralisation of both political and economic life, which created the launch-pad for capitalism;

2. Science - a way of studying, understanding and ultimately changing the natural world, which gave the West (among other things) a major military advantage over the Rest;

3. The Rule of Law - a cumulative model for peacefully resolving disputes between individuals over property which formed the basis for the most stable form of representative government;

4. Medicine - a branch of science which allowed a major improvement in health and life expectancy, beginning in Western societies, but also in their colonies;

5. The Consumer Society - a mode of material living in which the production and purchase of clothing plays a central economic role, without which the Industrial Revolution would have been unsustainable; and

6. The Work Ethic - a moral framework and mode of activity derived from Protestant Christianity that provides the glue for the dynamic and potentially unstable society created by apps 1 to 5.

Make no mistake: This is not another self-satisfied version of 'The Triumph of the West'. I want to show that it was not just Western superiority that led to the conquest and colonisation of so much of the rest of the world; it was also the fortuitous weakness of the West's rivals. In the 1640s, for example, a combination of fiscal and monetary crisis, climate change and epidemic disease unleashed rebellion and the final crisis of the Ming dynasty. This had nothing to do with the West. Likewise, the political and military decline of the Ottoman Empire was internally driven more than it was externally imposed. North American political institutions flourished as South America's festered; but Simon Bolivar's failure to create a Latin American United States was not the gringo's fault.

The critical point is that the differential between the West and the Rest was institutional. Western Europe overtook China partly because in the West there was more competition in both the political and the economic spheres. Austria, Prussia and latterly even Russia became more effective administratively and militarily because the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution happened in the Christian but not in the Muslim world. The reason North America's ex-colonies did so much better than South America's was because British settlers established a completely different system of property rights and political representation in the North from those built by Spaniards and Portuguese in the South. European empires were able to penetrate Africa not just because they had the Maxim gun; they also devised vaccines against tropical diseases which African societies were just as powerless against.

In the same way, the earlier industrialisation of the West reflected institutional advantages: the possibility of a mass consumer society existed in the British Isles before the advent of steam power. Even after industrial technology was almost universally available, the differential between the West and the Rest persisted; indeed, it grew wider. With wholly standardised cotton spinning and weaving machinery, the European and North American worker was still able to work more productively, and his capitalist employer to accumulate wealth more rapidly, than their Oriental counterparts. This series is about all these
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PROUD OF THE COUNTRYS OUTSIDE THE WEST!, 13 Nov 2013
This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
After watching from start to finish, one thing that stands out the most to me is that WAR, Blood, and disrimination is given to almost ever human being around the world that has colour to there skin. From a white person this type of behavior is seen as power. But what the west fails to notice is that coloured people have been listening to every nasty thing that there say, and are determain to change it, without WAR, Blood and bullying. But will work together to kill evil racist westen ways. Iran, China, Africa, South America god bless these Nations.
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45 of 95 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Belongs on Fox, 18 April 2011
By 
Andrew Orphanoudakis (Lincoln, U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
This is truly awful stuff. Ferguson has neither a material nor an objective view of history and it shows in an alarming way in this 'documentary' series. From the beginning he unquestioningly equates civilisation with capitalism and neoliberalism. This leads him to blindly assert right-wing trash such as the USSR collapsing because it didn't have access to blue jeans and Africa being undeveloped because it hasn't shared our (Western) values of a hard work ethic or democracy! So, nothing to do with suffering years of colonial and economic exploitation from the 'civilised' West then Mr Ferguson? More ludicrous statements include the supposed 'fact' that Israel's internationally condemned apartheid wall has been built to defend Israelis from Iran and Lebanon....!? So, nothing to do with carving up and grabbing Palestinian land then? The real gem though is Ferguson's explanation for the rise of China as an economic power. Apparently it's to do with the fact that many of them share the protestant work ethic. Classic! I'm not making this stuff up, it's worth checking out for a laugh. No Niall, China is an economic power because it has a huge labour market which has been directed by a centralised government (it has essentially synthesised the organisation of socialism with the efficiency of capitalism).

There are countless other inaccuracies, half truths and downright lies but I'll productively use this space by recommending some alternative stimulating and scientific documentaries about the development of civilisation...
'The Ascent of Man' by Jacob Bronowski: The Ascent Of Man : Complete BBC Series [DVD] Discusses important elements of Western civilisation within the context of general human evolution.
And- 'Cosmos' by Carl Sagan.Cosmos [DVD] [1980] Covers many important aspects of Western civilisation as part of developments in astronomy.

Bronowski, Sagan....these were men of great intellectual vigor.....I think Ferguson might be right, if he is now passing for the standard of thought that these men once did, then I think the West - along with civilisation, is indeed history.
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30 of 79 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Honest and evaluative opinion, 11 April 2011
This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
Niall Ferguson talks about global issues as if he cares for the suffering of those that bear the brunt of environmental destruction or inner city slum living. But what actually is he saying needs to change?

In the last of his boring shows 'Civilisation: is the west history' he takes an age to basically say how much China should thank Christianity (and by inference British colonialism) for its work ethic. This sounds less like penetrative thought and more like the drivel spouted off by some drunken ex-pat he met in a bar whilst filming.

This was not a discussion about 'lost faith', instead it was an opportunity for him to tell us how great Christianity is. The biggest joke of which is the assertion that Protestantism created the work ethic and that imperialism should be thanked for delivering this to the world. How arrogant of him to say that, what would Niall Ferguson suggest the rest of the world were up to prior to imperialism?

In the last episode he fails to even make reference to the employment of guns and explosives as the major facilitator of the brute force subjugation and enforced suffering by one Human being upon an other. He also fails to notice that China does not display this trait with the same fervour that the West did.

A closer inspection of his "6 killer apps" betrays a heartfelt regret that Britain lost its Empire. He is a Historian so he should know that Medicine and Science have traversed Europe and Asia and that ideas have always been shared. Science and Medicine were not created in Europe independently of the rest of the world.

I find it sickening that he parades himself as an altruist when in fact he's conservative and a capitalist that feels vindicated in his cretinous opinions simply because he is a Christian. The only thing Niall Ferguson is sad about is the fact that it's not 1850 and Queen Victoria is no longer the head of a tyrannical global super power.

How did this guy get on TV? No wait; TV is the right place for this pseudo-intellectual who doesn't even have the common decency to have a modicum of charisma to spout off his fake plastic dull and conventional ideas.

His series is a failure because it says nothing original and there is no insight, instead he blindly says we need to be doing more of the same as we have always done and that somehow things will be better once the West is in dominion.
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7 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow, 4 Oct 2011
This review is from: Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] (DVD)
A few interesting facts in the early episodes, but it soon goes downhill and is in free fall in the last episode, where the superficiality and mindlessness of the analysis of China is mind-boggling. My hypothesis is that Niall and Craig Ferguson have quietly switched jobs.
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Civilization: Is the West History [DVD]
Civilization: Is the West History [DVD] by Niall Ferguson (DVD - 2011)
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