Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The West and The Rest is a fascinating book. In a nutshell Ferguson gives us his reason’s why “The West” has risen to power over the last 500 years and asks “Are we the ones that will be remembered for being the ones on the watch when “The West” began to decline?”
This is very big stuff and well written. I can’t say if he’s right or wrong, there are plenty on the net who love and hate this book. But I think it is a great place to start understanding world politics. It’s an important book of our time. Everyone should read it.
My main take-away from this book is that East – West history is very important and it is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of material that is not easy to read. It’s awe-inspiring, then disgusting, shameful, gross, idiotic, fantastic, gross, violent, and more. For example, I really got hung up in Chapter 4 Medicine. There was so much “death”, “destruction”, “cruelty”, and “crazy politics” in this section that I had to put it down many times. The recollections of wars in Africa are downright “ugly”. No one could feel proud of those actions. But they happened. It’s reality and history.
Note that there is also a TV show. I’ve watched the 1st episode, of six, and it is very entertaining. My son found it interesting because his schooling has not covered history of China and the East. Also, of the history his school does cover it candy coats the “ugly” parts. It’s pretty hard to understand why people can hate others when history is “candy coated”.
The book review in the Guardian (UK) is interesting. Here are some quotes:
Niall Ferguson: ‘Westerners don’t understand how vulnerable freedom is’
Niall Ferguson is one of the world’s leading historians, but his pro-colonial views have been heavily criticised. Here, he explains why he’s now targeting a younger audience