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Civilization: The West and the Rest Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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“A dazzling history of Western ideas” –The Economist
“Mr. Ferguson tells his story with characteristic verve and an eye for the felicitous phrase.” – Wall Street Journal
“[W]ritten with vitality and verve… a tour de force.” –Boston Globe
“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
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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 ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Easily readable book but the last killer application "Protestant work ethic" ... that's total crap.
Irritating arrogance shines through there. Read more
For me this presented some new insights about why and how the West caught up and pulled ahead of older, more advanced.civilizations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Granddaddy
Ferguson's other books were excellent. But, this book is repetitive and reads like stream of conscious. Read morePublished 4 months ago by P. Bechtel
It should be required reading of every junior in high school.Published 4 months ago by Charles F Flege
Great read for those wanting to understand the history of the US and the Western success.Published 5 months ago by llponce
An interesting titel and content. By now a little dated because of the developments in China in recent years. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pieter de Coningh
I am still reading the book recommended by a book review on one of my favorite news sites, taking time to think the recent history of mankind. Read morePublished 5 months ago by hhp
This is *not* a customer review since I haven't read the book, I only read the summary. HOWEVER I know what Asian values are - and the author leaves out one major factor: The West... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Erik Schaepers