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Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011)

av Niall Ferguson

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,3262713,993 (3.54)10
History. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:From the bestselling author of The Ascent of Money and The Square and the Tower
??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

Western civilization??s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries.
How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? Acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts, or ??killer applications???competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic??that the Rest lacked, allowing it to surge past all other competitors.
Yet now, Ferguson shows how the Rest have downloaded the killer apps the West once monopolized, while the West has literally lost faith in itself. Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside clashes (and fusions) of civilizations, Civilization: The West and the Rest recasts world history with force and wit. Boldly argued and teeming with memorable char
… (mer)
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» Se även 10 omnämnanden

engelska (23)  isländska (1)  tyska (1)  italienska (1)  Alla språk (26)
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This guy knows a lot about a lot and there is a lot about a lot in this book, but I found it hard to see what the point was sometimes. I would say that the underlying theme is that western civilization had (in addition to other things over which it had no control) certain ways of organizing itself that allowed it to surge ahead of other civilizations, He finishes by saying we may or may not be ready for a fall pending whether we are willing and able to adapt going forward. That's it. Read the book if you want the details. ( )
  BBrookes | Dec 8, 2023 |
Not too bad. Fun to read with all those little bits of knowledge and stories inside.

But also it's not that (thought) provoking. ( )
  cwebb | May 15, 2023 |
Prima parte e interesanta și încearcă sa răspundă intrebării de ce vestul a luat așa un avans economic fata de orient. Dar pe măsură ce avansează se pierde încet încet pana când devine doar o enumerare de evenimente desperecheate. La războiul lui Napoleon m-a pierdut de tot. Am citit cam o treime doar. ( )
  Faltiska | Apr 30, 2022 |
This was my first read of a book by the prolific historian Niall Ferguson. As a professor at Stanford, he is certainly not just anyone: he has a very extensive list of publications to his name, is also a very public figure who presents himself as a right-wing conservative, does not shy away from polemics and likes to kick left-wing holy houses. I have tried to read this book as open-minded as possible and that is what I try to do in my review.
Ferguson says he wants to explain why Western civilization succeeded in dominating the entire world from about 500 years ago. He thus ties in with the ‘Great Divergence’-debate that has been raging between historians, political and economic scientist since the 1990s about the causes and extent of Western dominance. “The key point of this book is to understand what made their (i.e. western) civilization expand so spectacularly in its wealth, influence and power.” Ferguson offers 6 decisive explanations: the continuous mutual competition that led to permanent innovation, the free development of science, the rule of law and especially the more or less stable protection of property, the extensive development of medicine and public health, the focus on consumption that propelled the Industrial Revolution, and finally a strict work ethic. I'm not going to get into those "killer apps" as Ferguson fashionably calls them (I’ll do that in my review for my History account on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1037691157 ). I’ll suffice to say here that Ferguson offers a lot of interesting stuff, not all of which is equally original (in fact, he pretty much sums up the Great Divergence debate) and not all of it indisputable. Of course, he mainly underlines the merit of the West, especially against the anti-colonialist and 'subaltern' school (also more about that in my History account).
There is no doubt that Ferguson is very erudite and is able to offer a very captivating narrative. But, overall, I missed a sharp focus in this book, because of the many side paths that Ferguson takes, both thematically and chronologically. For example, Chapter 2, on the Scientific Revolution, mainly focuses on the Ottoman Empire; and in chapter 4, on medicine and public health, the focus is on French and German colonization. All very interesting, but not 100% to the point. Ferguson's own agenda also emerges, certainly towards the end of the book. Because, in his own words, he also wants to expose why the West seems to be on the decline at the start of the 21st century, and also to estimate the chance that this civilization will 'collapse'.
Now, such a presentist agenda always is dangerous. For starters, this book was published in 2011, shortly after the great financial crisis, and already now, 10 years later, it shows how shortsighted Ferguson's analysis is: a lot of other critical problems have surfaced. His last chapter seems more like a political manifesto, which is very marked by his personal obsessions (a clearly anti-Islamist stance, for example), and therefore seems rather outdated. Moreover, you also have a basic problem here: Ferguson cites many examples that should prove that civilizations can suddenly collapse, but those examples are all about political regimes and states, not civilizations (the French Revolution that ended the Ancien Regime, the collapse of the British Empire after 1945, and the collapse of the Soviet Empire 1989-1991). Ferguson is intelligent enough to see that in the meantime 'Western civilization' has become a reality that is shared globally and therefore cannot simply be limited to a geographically defined area. Yet he stubbornly adheres to the elitist interpretation of the term: “the Western package still seems to offer human societies the best available set of economic, social and political institutions – the ones most likely to unleash the individual human creativity capable of solving the problems the twenty-first century world faces”. Ferguson is of course entitled to that opinion (and there are some arguments to it), but it is impossible to say that the 300 pages preceding his conclusion convincingly demonstrate that this 'package' alone is the perfect solution. In that sense, this book is somewhat of a failure. ( )
  bookomaniac | Dec 12, 2021 |
Gave up. Not history and not very interesting opinion either. Big dissapointment after the ascent of money. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
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The reheated Weberism – a sign of Ferguson’s nostalgia for the intellectual certainties of the summer of 1914 – turns into another lament for Western civilisation, whose decline is proclaimed everywhere by the fact that the churches are empty, taxes on our wealth are high, the ‘thrifty asceticism’ of Protestants of yore has been lost, and ‘empire has become a dirty word.’
 
It reads very assuredly on high finance – Ferguson's true field. (He came into imperial history accidentally – invited, again, by TV.) For anyone expecting an imperialist rant – Ferguson has a certain reputation along these lines – the chapter that covers colonial Africa will come as a surprise. Africa "brought out the destructive worst in Europeans . . . The rapid dissolution of the European empires in the postwar years appeared to be a just enough sentence".
tillagd av mikeg2 | ändraThe Guardian, Bernard Potter (Mar 25, 2011)
 

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History. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:From the bestselling author of The Ascent of Money and The Square and the Tower
??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

Western civilization??s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries.
How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? Acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts, or ??killer applications???competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic??that the Rest lacked, allowing it to surge past all other competitors.
Yet now, Ferguson shows how the Rest have downloaded the killer apps the West once monopolized, while the West has literally lost faith in itself. Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside clashes (and fusions) of civilizations, Civilization: The West and the Rest recasts world history with force and wit. Boldly argued and teeming with memorable char

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