Civilization: The West And The Rest

Hardcover | November 1, 2011

byNiall Ferguson

not yet rated|write a review
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.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$5.00 online
$40.50 list price
Out of stock online
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

From the Publisher

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 Wester...

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, T...

other books by Niall Ferguson

Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist

Hardcover|Sep 29 2015

$39.34 online$49.95list price(save 21%)
The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World
The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World

Paperback|Oct 27 2009

$16.23 online$24.00list price(save 32%)
The House Of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 1798-1848
The House Of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 17...

Paperback|Nov 1 1999

$21.86 online$27.50list price(save 20%)
see all books by Niall Ferguson
Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.31 × 6.33 × 1.42 inPublished:November 1, 2011Publisher:Penguin Press (HC)Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1594203059

ISBN - 13:9781594203053

Look for similar items by category:

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from No Surprises... Ferguson is thorough, if nothing else. His descriptions of the six factors that caused the west to advance so far so fast (500 years) and to stay ahead so long is an interesting exhaustive cultural journey. He makes a case that the end of this lead is approaching, well maybe. Several authors make the case that the west's lead is shrinking and they call this the "decline" of the west. If underdeveloped societies advance and close the gap, that is good news for them and for the west. More equality, more prosperity, more competition, more innovation ... All good.
Date published: 2013-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A well researched, well written tour de force Prolific Oxford, Harvard and Stanford professor Niall Ferguson continues his excellent string of publications with a well researched and erudite tour of the past 500 years of western civilization. The book is very, very detailed (over 700 end notes, plus a 30 page bibliography), but extremely readable. Its many facts are both interesting and woven together logically and chronologically to support a central thesis - that the West has predominated because it developed six killer apps: competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic. Not just another book trumpeting the West’s superiority, Ferguson highlights the West’s good luck as well as it’s superior political and economic structure. He notes the West’s willingness to have its killer apps downloaded by other countries, which will mean more wealth for all but also a change in the balance of power. Like all history books, the content is filtered through the author’s particular lens - in this case a right wing, British Empire loving polymath and wit - but Ferguson is thorough in supporting his thesis, confronting other historians’ theories and mistakes head-on, and documenting his own views with ample political, economic and cultural references and a fair amount of humour. The prolific references range from esoteric to pop-cultural (e.g. Sid Meier’s Civilization computer game). There are some minor flaws - the chapter on medicine is mostly about subjects other than medicine; the slave trade to the Americas listed as beginning in 1450, almost half a century before Columbus’ voyage to the New World; and Ferguson seems curiously unscientific in his footnote musing that genetics may explain Jews’ disproportionate success in arts, science and commerce - but on the whole this is an excellent, densely packed historical tour. For those familiar with Ferguson’s other works, Civilization falls somewhere between his story filled and highly readable “Ascent of Money” and his more academic “The Pity of War”. A broad, detailed canvas with the most interesting of stories laying the foundation for us to speculate about the future of western civilization and the rise of China. Much better and more thought provoking than other, often economics oriented, books heralding the decline of the West. Civilization the television series will surely cross the Atlantic to North American viewers, just as “The Ascent of Money” did, but read the book for its rich detail. Buy it, read it, and reflect on the future of both the West and the Rest.
Date published: 2012-01-06