Civilization: The West and the Rest

civilizationCivilization: The West and the Rest
by Niall Ferguson (Brit)
2011 / 432 pages
Rating:   8.5 /  Socio-Economic History

Very interesting book – I’ve thought some of these things but I don’t think I’ve ever read them – not put together like this, anyway.  This book is about why what we refer to as the West has been the dominant power in the world in the last 50-60 years.   Ferguson has organized the material very well,  it’s thoroughly readable (deliberately at a YA level)  and although he digresses a bit much for my tastes,  it’s all there for a reason – to re-examine history and find out why the West dominates.

In the Preface it is stated there are 6 basic things the West did or went through since 1500 which prompted their success.  These are items are then carried over into the chapter titles:   1) competition between and within the European states;  2) 18th century scientific breakthroughs;   3) the rule of law and representative government including individual property rights and governmental representation;   4) modern medicine as seen in the imperialist drives of Europe and the US;   5) the consumer society resulting from the Industrial Revolution; and  6) the work ethic promulgated by religion.   The narrative unfolds in a generally chronological order.

Ferguson is definitely coming from a pro-business,  pro-West and economically conservative leaning point of view,  but imo,  it’s not overwhelming.  He does see as a distinct possibility the collapse of the West’s predominance.

The Guardian – a negative review:

NY Times Review – kind of neutral

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