This book is for anyone who loves history. It is an eloquent defence of our civilisation's values, and also an impassioned and compelling argument for why the study of history is so important and is a vital discipline. It is not a matter of agreeing with every point Professor Ferguson makes, although his arguments are very convincing and it is hard indeed to see how to disagree. This book raises a question, which is how the West has achieved predominance over the rest of the world, and, by extension, how it can possibly maintain that predominance if it loses the features which made it so successful and which are being adopted by its rivals. It is a cultural analysis backed by historical evidence, and it is deliberately provocative even in terms of the question posed, not to mention the answers provided. The main value of this book is not, however, its all-encompassing sweep of world history and rich collation of stories and anecdotes, although that is what makes it so much fun to read and saves it from being boring (which many good books are). Professor Ferguson's virtue is that he does not sacrifice intellectual rigour in order to engage the interest of a non-specialist. As an economist as well as an historian his analysis is underpinned by serious scholarship that is not easily accessible to the layman, yet he vigorously challenges the established conventions that are characterised by complacency, presumed even-handedness, and relativism. Professor Ferguson is magnificent at marshalling a wide range of knowledge to support his opinions. It is what history should be all about. This book is an incisive analysis of the past which aims to stimulate debate. It is a reassessment of our assumptions that have a profound impact on the present, and of course also on the future.