only a few non-fiction writers can put out four full books on varying topics that are all brilliant? Ferguson--at his best--is hypnotic; at his worst (his economic books?), he seems to just be creating long lists of phenomenon. EMPIRE and [b:Civilization|357636|Civilization and Its Discontents|Sigmund Freud|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347581113s/357636.jpg|848942] argue for the full five stars-- and so Niall Ferguson joins [a:Simon Winchester|14053|Simon Winchester|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1286848563p2/14053.jpg] in that apparently very rare ability to write multiple interesting even fascinating non-ficiton works without specialization. In other words, we might say Max Hastings, Rick Atkinson, and John Keegan are equal or superior writers--but they are all military history specialists. Jon Krakauer's best work is in mountain-climbing / nature. maybe Sebastian Junger is the next best candidate for 'non-specialized' writer?
does this bring up the question (since Ferguson and Winchester are Brits) that the UK despite having one-fifth the population of the US retains its edge in cultural--specifically literary--output? and why would this be? possible reasons---
1) greater political realism-- fewer people trying to save the world
2) greater economic realism-- fewer individuals trying to start businesses
3) more sophisticated island rather than continental social relations
4) more widespread knowledge of foreign cultures / relations
i guess these are all workable theories