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Civilization: The West and the Rest [Kindle Edition]

Niall Ferguson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.31
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Western civilization’s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries. All over the world, more and more people study at Western-style universities, work for Western-style companies, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and play Western sports. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed like miserable backwaters, ravaged by incessant war and pestilence. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed?

In Civilization: The West and the Rest, acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic. These were the ‘killer applications’ that allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest; opening global trade routes, exploiting new scientific knowledge, evolving representative government, more than doubling life expectancy, unleashing the industrial revolution, and hugely increasing human productivity. Civilization shows exactly how a dozen Western empires came to control three-fifths of mankind and four-fifths of the world economy.

Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western predominance are numbered because the Rest have finally downloaded the six killer apps the West once monopolized – while the West has literally lost faith in itself.

Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside the clashes of civilizations, Civilization recasts world history with verve and wit. Boldly argued but also teeming with memorable characters, this is Ferguson at his very best.


Editorial Reviews

Review

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 [Praise for The Ascent of Money] Beautifully written... Breathtakingly clever -- Martin Van Weyer Sunday Telegraph [Praise for The Ascent of Money] The tales he tells of boom and bust, of triumph and disaster, of bubbles that inflate... are the very essence of financial history -- Bill Emmott Financial Times [Praise for The Ascent of Money] An often enlightening and enjoyable tour through the underside of great events, a lesson in how the most successful great powers have always been underpinned by smart money -- Robert Skidelsky New York Review of Books

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3229 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054TVW04
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
(253)
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
540 of 585 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
While I suspect that David Starkey would violently object the two current giants of television history in the UK in terms of providing a worldview are the left leaning Simon Schama and the combative neo conservative Niall Ferguson. Their dust up at last years Hay Literary festival in Wales was a colourful sparring session between two big intellects firing verbal potshots at each other and a joy to behold. Schama concentrated on providing a robust defense of Barack Obama while Ferguson spent much of his allotted time dissing the President's now famous speech delivered in Cairo in 2009. Indeed he has described it as "touchy feely nonsense" and has in recent weeks sent out lurid warnings about Obama's failure to anticipate the demise of Mubarak and to come to terms with what Ferguson sees as the potential rise of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and the possible "restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia". Strong stuff, but Ferguson does like a good row. (see his feud with the nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman)

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.
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212 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the Niall on the head! Pun intended. November 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow, what an amazing, exciting and insightful historical analysis of how we all got here! By "here," I mean to say, at Amazon, browsing books on line, reading the reviews of anonymous readers with wildly divergent opinions!

Before I write anything, remember this: Comparative Culture is, by definition, based on human opinion, and its study can be polarizing and emotionally sensitive. This book will get your back up, one way or the other.

There are many detailed reviews already written on this controversial volume, so I'll just cut RIGHT to the chase: If you're a conservative American (or European, for that matter), and you think we are "by God, the strongest country on earth, never been stronger, and all you foreign hordes coming from Asia can love it or leave it!" then this book is NOT for you. If you're a Tea Partier or a Rick Perry supporter, this book is going to rankle you, maybe even offend you, because Dr. Ferguson recognizes that the United States is an empire in serious trouble. But he doesn't leave the story there.

On the other side of the coin, if you're a staunch "declinist," a radical environmentalist, an Occupier, or a gloom-and-doom jeremiah, this book will ALSO put you off. Niall Ferguson is far too sophisticated a social critic to be easily labeled. He's not a flag waving patriot, and he's not a red-hot revolutionary. He's an enormously accomplished historian who believes that our times are BAD, that civilization is dangerously close to rapid disintegration, that the loss of standards and civility in life are creating a world of unimaginable selfishness, that fear and greed rule the WORLD, not just the markets, and that mass consumerism leads to boredom, loneliness and depression. There's just one catch: He believes we can fix it.
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212 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, Thought-Provoking and Compulsive Reading March 6, 2011
Format:Hardcover
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Niail Ferguson's: Civilization
fantastic read. so much material covered in such great detail with insight and clarity.
Published 25 days ago by mona inati
5.0 out of 5 stars In short it is the western institutions and values that led to...
Why has western civilization taken over the world? Because it works.
Today it seems we live in a time of cultural relativism where all cultures are equally worthy and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David D
5.0 out of 5 stars A must in my library
The perfect synthesis and analysis
Published 1 month ago by Ygouf de Varese
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a trifle hackneyed
Published 2 months ago by Bruce Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but tedious at times
The book is interesting and a thought-provoking exploration of the rise of "west" and how it dominated world affairs for five centuries. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sisyphus Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
okay
Published 3 months ago by Robert B. Burns
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything you want to know and MORE!
Lots of facts and figures. It goes by quickly but sometimes very tangential and obscure. This is not for the passive listeners. The narrator does lots of animated voices.
Published 3 months ago by drlamarca
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
required reading
Published 3 months ago by Nigel Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars Niall Ferguson is the best.
This is a book everyone can read, enjoy and learn from. You don't need a Ph.D. to find it readable and if you do have a Ph.D. you can still learn much from Ferguson's insights. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Harry Gleason
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series
Thank God for bright people thinking outside the box, avoiding political correctness, and backing up his hypotheses.
Published 3 months ago by Edgar F. Prasthofer
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More About the Author

Niall Ferguson is one of our most renowned historians. He is the bestselling author of numerous books, including The War of the World, Colossus, and Empire.

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