Reference Materials – Civilization: The West and the Rest by Prof. Niall Ferguson – Jan 13

Click on this section for our traditional full-length book reviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

In addition, there follows below a so-called “Capsule Review” in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine by Prof. G. John Ikenberry.

[Ikenberry is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton U and Co-Director of Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies. The author of eight books and editor or co-editor of another 14, he has won numerous awards, was ranked 10th in scholars who have produced the best work in the field of International Relations in the past 20 years, and ranked 8th in scholars who have produced the most interesting work in the past 5 years.]

Ikenberry’s “Capsule Review” of Prof. Ferguson’s “Civilization: The West and the Rest” -

"This enjoyably sprawling history of “the rise of the West,” written for a general audience, follows in the footsteps of major works by such scholars as John Darwin, Jared Diamond, William NcNeill, and Douglass North. Like them, Ferguson grapples with the grand puzzle of the modern world: Why did the West, which in 1500 was no more advanced than the other world civilizations -- most notably China, India, and Islam -- rise up over the following five centuries to amass great power and wealth and come to dominate the world? Ferguson rejects explanations that focus on European imperialism or the uniqueness of geography, climate, or culture. Instead, he argues that Western ascendency was unleashed by the uniquely decentralized, open, rule-based, and competitive character of European politics, economics, and society. Individual chapters look at the role of competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumer society, and the work ethic in distinguishing the West. The book is written with an eye on the rise of China and leaves the reader with a crucial question: Are the ideas and institutions of Western civilization becoming truly universal, or will the rise of non-Western states usher in alternative pathways to modernization and advancement?"
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