Hurry - Only 2 left in stock!
Niall Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the bestselling author of Paper and Iron and The House of Rothschild.
In the 15th century, Asia and the Middle East seemed to possess tremendous advantages in power and intellect, while the disorganized cluster of nations that made up the West lagged behind. How then did Western civilization come to dominate? According to Ferguson (The Ascent of Money), who holds professorships at Harvard, Harvard Business School, and the London School of Economics, it was six "killer applications"-competition, science, property rights, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic-that enabled the West to charge ahead. Furthermore, he asserts, as many of these "apps" have now been globally assimilated, the time of the West's ascendancy may be over. It's an interesting thesis, sure to generate debate, but Ferguson's arguments lack thorough, consistent development, and at times the six-application structure seems a stretch, with a reliance on vivid but tangential subjects to cover the gaps; e.g., the chapter on medicine ostensibly focuses on how colonization of Africa led to improved treatment of disease but gives far more space to discussions of the French Revolution and the horrors resulting from eugenic theory. VERDICT Fans of Ferguson will find him as engaging as ever, but numerous digressions and simplistic treatments mar the book's potentially intriguing points. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/11.]-Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ferguson (Colossus), Harvard historian, polymath, and bestselling author, joins others who've tried to explain the rise and dominance of the West, "the pre-eminent historical phenomenon of the second half of the second millennium after Christ." He also has his eye on an increasingly pressing concern: the threats, from inside and outside, to Western hegemony. Ferguson attributes the West's supremacy and the spread of Western ways to six factors: competition, science, property rights (the rule of law), medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic. It's a grab bag of plausible conditions that differ from reasons cited by other students of the subject, but all hard to prove. Ominously, from Ferguson's perspective, "the fortuitous weakness of the West's rivals" is turning to strengths, threatening Western supremacy. Turning from historian to seer, Ferguson thus foresees the West's decline and fall (of which he seems convinced) arising from both self-inflicted wounds (such as self-indulgence and weakening educational systems) and the strengthening of nations, such as China, that are modernizing and improving the education of their young people. Perhaps. The book would have gained by greater focus and less of a jumble of details. The reason for Ferguson's fear of "the rest" isn't clear, but those who share his concern will find that he has penned a sobering caution. Illus. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Thought-provoking and possibly controversial." ---Library Journal