Civilization: The Six Ways the West Beat the Rest Hardcover – 3 Mar 2011
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation ... he writes with splendid panache (The Times )
One of the world's leading historians (Hamish McRae Independent )
Civilization is another masterpiece ... a pulsing energy suffuses his account [and] fascinating facts burst like fireworks on every page (Dominic Lawson Sunday Times )
This is sharp. It feels urgent. Ferguson, with a properly financially literate mind, twists his knife with great literary brio (Andrew Marr Financial Times )
A dazzling history of Western ideas (Economist )
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World and The Ascent of Money. He writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world. He has written and presented five highly successful television document series for Channel Four: Empire, American Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money and, most recently, Civilization.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
These themes above are the heart of this new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest" since Ferguson comes from the controversial standpoint that Western dominance has on the whole been a progressive force and that on the basis of a cost benefit analysis the good outweighs the bad (it is a constant theme in all his books). He recently argued that "the rulers of western Africa prior to the European empires were not running some kind of scout camp. They were engaged in the slave trade. They showed zero sign of developing the country's economic resources....and the counterfactual idea that somehow the indigenous rulers would have been more successful in economic development doesn't have any credibility at all.Read more ›
There are a plethora of books out there detailing the differences between the "West" and the "East" and this one doesn't go in so much for cultural influences per se as stating the fact that the western style of "civilization" in the author's eyes at least, is due in most part to mercantile, industrial, military and perhaps most surprisingly religious developments, in particular the "protestant work ethic". This is a recurring theme throughout the book and doesn't entirely convince to be fair but is certainly a case well made.
I suspect there will be many critics of the content of the book but surely few of the style in which the arguments are made. I am not in total agreement myself with a lot of them, but the over-riding enthusiasm with which he puts his ideas across, made this for me, in the hoary old phrase, a right riveting read.
The bottom line is that this book fits in with a TV series, and you can see the skeleton of the TV series throughout - the 'killer aps', the scant development of arguments, the highly visual backdrop to each section (you can imagine him striding through markets or staring broodily into the middle distance surrounded by ancient ruins).
As a result, the arguments are undercooked and it doesn't feel as though Ferguson engages with them with his full intellect.
Yes, there are insights and splashes of detail and argument, but they are few. The essay that makes up the conclusion is the first time that it feels like Ferguson is really tackling the subject head on, although it feels bolted on to the rest of the book. The logic behind the medicine chapter is tortured and the consumerism chapter feels whimsical - that is not to challenge the intellectual underpinnings of these chapters: it's rather to say that they've got lost in making the TV series.
I think I'd learn more from sitting opposite Ferguson with a pint, listening to him explain these things properly. That's what I mean by him dialling it in, as supporting material for the main project - serving the great god of TV.
If he'd tackled the subject with his full force, we'd have ended up with a book as good as those that he mentions - the ones by David Landes, Jared Diamond (although deeply flawed) and Paul Kennedy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, very interesting but just a bit too much detail in places for me.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting read even a few years after publication given changes to global economy, lots to think about and work onPublished 3 months ago
The first 200 pages are fantastic but when the author starts to analyse the development of our civilization today using computer games it loses credibility. Wished he had stoppedPublished 7 months ago by Ole Hollensen
Just finished this book. I loved it, very well written, very informative - I would recommend it to anyonePublished 12 months ago by Toby
Very enlightened. A must have book for anyone interested in the history of our civilisation.Published 12 months ago by email@example.com