Niall Ferguson is a sort of British Bright Young Thing and Stephen Colbert-type artist who is pretending to be an American Republican. like Ali-G , the joke is only apparent to the British; most Americans read Ferguson straight and believe he actually is a Heritage Scholar or whatever his title is at the Brookings institute.
Ferguson has written a sort of deeply ironic work about how Napoleon was defeated by a gang of shady Fleet Street Jews , and then here in Civilization, he presents a sort of 'theory of the west' that does not take into account the whole individualism vs. collective wheat vs. rice theory; all the work done in 'Guns Germs and Steel' about domestication of animals, etc etc to end up with a brilliant (thought deeply ironic) support of the US Republican Party.
how the hell would a British guy end up having US American Republican views?
in the end this work succeeds because of his brilliant pen. however, CAVEAT EMPTOR. the final 30% of the book is footnotes, so you barely get 280 pages... wahh T.T sorry but that cost this review the fifth star.
a lot better than those mad anti-semitic screchings in that other book of his... this classic ' we are all in decline / western culture is trembling' is a good read.
a little word, folks.
the west has, ummm
so weird ethnic types won't be invading iowa anytime soon.
okay joke over... real review commence.,
compared to a scientist such as the guy who wrote that china vs. west book, ferguson is brilliantly subtle, covering south american, middle eastern, and sinic cultures in comparison to a dominant west. he is sophisticated and nimbly plays with words to characterize a work that can reference sid meier's civilization computer game yet finesse into description of british age of sail innovations. so it's a complicated work.
1 July 2013 reread
confirm 4/5. Ferguson's work has good re-read value, in that in intervening months of reading other nonfiction, news, and novels, you do feel you are capable of re-engaging with the high intellectualism of Ferguson's work. the ending now strikes one as really optimistic / pro-west. if China does become Christian, it will do so under the control of the Party, one tends to think. and probably in our post christian world, the level of christianity adopted won't be more than 30%. some very impressive fieldwork, interesting (if controversial?) diversions into economics, but overall very solid very 4 of 5