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Civilization: The West and the Rest Paperback – October 30, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143122067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143122067
  • ASIN: 0143122061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[W]ritten with vitality and verve… a tour de force.”
(BOSTON GLOBE)

"A dazzling history of Western ideas."
(THE ECONOMIST)

 “This is sharp. It feels urgent. Ferguson, with a properly financially literate mind, twists his knife with great literary brio…Ferguson ends by suggesting the biggest threat is not China but ourselves – our cowardice, drawn from ignorance, even stupidity, about our past. He is right. But as he shows himself, that can be fixed.”
(THE FINANCIAL TIMES)

“The author boldly takes on 600 years of world events… so that the history lesson remains fresh and compelling… A richly informed, accessible history lesson.”
(KIRKUS (starred))

About the Author

NIALL FERGUSON is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the bestselling author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, and High Financier. He also writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world.

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.

Customer Reviews

Very well written and researched book.
Tom
This is certainly the worst but not the only flaw in Ferguson's analysis.
Frequent Reader
You'll have to read the book to learn what they are!
Jon L. Albee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

532 of 577 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 1, 2011
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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204 of 231 people found the following review helpful By Jon L. Albee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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209 of 242 people found the following review helpful By Robin Navrozov on 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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