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About Niall Ferguson
Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, former Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and current senior fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and founder and managing director of advisory firm Greenmantle LLC. The author of 15 books, Ferguson is writing a life of Henry Kissinger, the first volume of which—Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist—was published in 2015 to critical acclaim. The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History. Other titles include Civilization: The West and the Rest, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die and High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg. Ferguson's six-part PBS television series, "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World," based on his best-seller, won an International Emmy for best documentary in 2009. Civilization was also made into a documentary series. Ferguson is a recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service as well as other honors. His most recent book is The Square and the Tower: Networks on Power from the Freemasons to Facebook (2018).
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Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot. Call if what you like, it matters now more than ever. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that financial history is the back-story to all history.
From the banking dynasty who funded the Italian Renaissance to the stock market bubble that caused the French Revolution, this is the story of booms and busts as it's never been told before.
With the world in the grip of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, there's never been a better time to understand the ascent - and descent - of money.
'Beautifully written ... Breathtakingly clever' Sunday Telegraph
'A lucid and racy account of financial history' New Statesman
'A fine, readable and entertaining history' Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'The tales he tells of boom and bust, of triumph and disaster, of bubbles that inflate ... are the very essence of financial history' Bill Emmott, Financial Times
'An often enlightening and enjoyable tour through the underside of great events, a lesson in how the most successful great powers have always been underpinned by smart money' Robert Skidelsky, New York Review of Books
'Magisterial ... Immensely readable' Douglas Alexander, Financial Times
A compelling history of catastrophes and their consequences, from 'the most brilliant British historian of his generation' (The Times)
Disasters are inherently hard to predict. But when catastrophe strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all. Yet the responses of many developed countries to a new pathogen from China were badly bungled. Why?
While populist rulers certainly performed poorly in the face of the pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work - pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters.
Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics and network science, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe offers not just a history but a general theory of disaster. As Ferguson shows, governments must learn to become less bureaucratic if we are to avoid the impending doom of irreversible decline.
'Insightful, productively provocative and downright brilliant' New York Times
'Stimulating, thought-provoking ... Readers will find much to relish' Martin Bentham, Evening Standard
Niall Ferguson's acclaimed bestseller on the highs and lows of Britain's empire
'A remarkably readable précis of the whole British imperial story - triumphs, deceits, decencies, kindnesses, cruelties and all' Jan Morris
Once vast swathes of the globe were coloured imperial red and Britannia ruled not just the waves, but the prairies of America, the plains of Asia, the jungles of Africa and the deserts of Arabia. Just how did a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic achieve all this? And why did the empire on which the sun literally never set finally decline and fall? Niall Ferguson's acclaimed Empire brilliantly unfolds the imperial story in all its splendours and its miseries, showing how a gang of buccaneers and gold-diggers planted the seed of the biggest empire in all history - and set the world on the road to modernity.
'The most brilliant British historian of his generation ... Ferguson examines the roles of "pirates, planters, missionaries, mandarins, bankers and bankrupts" in the creation of history's largest empire ... he writes with splendid panache ... and a seemingly effortless, debonair wit' Andrew Roberts
'Dazzling ... wonderfully readable' New York Review of Books
'Empire is a pleasure to read and brims with insights and intelligence' Sunday Times
DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOKS OF THE YEAR
If in the year 1411 you had been able to circumnavigate the globe, you would have been most impressed by the dazzling civilizations of the Orient. The Forbidden City was under construction in Ming Beijing; in the Near East, the Ottomans were closing in on Constantinople.
By contrast, England would have struck you as a miserable backwater ravaged by plague, bad sanitation and incessant war. The other quarrelsome kingdoms of Western Europe - Aragon, Castile, France, Portugal and Scotland - would have seemed little better. As for fifteenth-century North America, it was an anarchic wilderness compared with the realms of the Aztecs and Incas. The idea that the West would come to dominate the Rest for most of the next half millennium would have struck you as wildly fanciful. And yet it happened.
What was it about the civilization of Western Europe that allowed it to trump the outwardly superior empires of the Orient? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, was that the West developed six "killer applications" that the Rest lacked: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic. The key question today is whether or not the West has lost its monopoly on these six things. If so, Ferguson warns, we may be living through the end of Western ascendancy.
Civilization takes readers on their own extraordinary journey around the world - from the Grand Canal at Nanjing to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul; from Machu Picchu in the Andes to Shark Island, Namibia; from the proud towers of Prague to the secret churches of Wenzhou. It is the story of sailboats, missiles, land deeds, vaccines, blue jeans and Chinese Bibles. It is the defining narrative of modern world history.
Is China's rise unstoppable? Powered by the human capital of 1.3 billion citizens, the latest technological advances, and a comparatively efficient system of state-directed capitalism, China seems poised to become the global superpower this century. But the Middle Kingdom also faces a series of challenges. From energy scarcity to environmental degradation to political unrest and growing global security burdens, a host of factors could derail China's global ascent.
In this edition of The Munk Debates - Canada's premier international debate series - former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CNN's Fareed Zakaria square off against leading historian Niall Ferguson and world-renowned economist David Daokui Li to debate the biggest geopolitical issue of our time: Does the 21st century belong to China?
Highly electrifying and thoroughly engrossing, the Munk Debate on China is the first formal public debate Dr. Kissinger has participated in on China's future, and includes exclusive interviews with Henry Kissinger and David Daokui Li.
What if Britain had stayed out of the First World War? What if Germany had won the Second? How would England look if there had been no Cromwell? What would the world be like if Communism had never collapsed? And what if John F. Kennedy had lived?
In this acclaimed book, leading historians from Andrew Roberts to Michael Burleigh explore what might have been if nine of the most decisive moments in modern history had never happened.
The latest work from Niall Ferguson, bestselling author of Empire, The Great Degneration is based on his 2012 BBC Reith Lectures 'The Rule of Law and Its Enemies'
The decline of the West is something that has long been prophesied. Symptoms of decline are all around us today, it seems: slowing growth, crushing debts, aging populations, anti-social behaviour. But what exactly is amiss with Western civilization? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, is that our institutions - the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail - are degenerating.
Representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society: these were once the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance after around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways.
Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are increasingly distorted by over-complex regulations that are in fact the disease of which they purport to be the cure. The rule of law has metamorphosed into the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all our problems to be solved by the state.
The Degeneration of the West a powerful - and in places polemical - indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy, and while China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, Europeans and Americans alike are frittering away the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the degeneration of the West's once dominant civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.
The controversial revisionist history of World War I that made Niall Ferguson's name
The First World War killed around eight million men and bled Europe dry. More than any other event, it made the twentieth century. In this boldly conceived book and provocative, aimed to appeal not only to students but also to the general reader, Niall Ferguson explodes many of the myths surrounding the war.
Niall Ferguson is Herzog Professor of Financial History at the Stern School of Business, New York University, Visiting Professor of History, Oxford University and Senior Research Fellow, Jesus College, Oxford. His other books for Penguin include Empire, The Cash Nexus, Colossus, The War of the World, Virtual History, High Financier and Civilization.
Is America the new world empire? Presidents from Lincoln to Bush may have denied it but, as Niall Ferguson's brilliant and provocative book shows, the US is in many ways the greatest imperial power of all time. What's more, it always has been an empire, expanding westwards throughout the nineteenth century and rising to global dominance in the twentieth. But is today's American colossus really equipped to play Atlas, bearing the weight of the world on its shoulders? The United States, Ferguson reveals, is an empire running on empty, weakened by chronic defecits of money, manpower and political will. When the New Rome falls, he warns, its collapse may come from within.
'One of the timeliest and most topical books to have appeared in recent years' Literary Review
'Yet another tour de force from a writer who displays all his usual gifts of forceful polemic, unconventional intelligence and elegant prose ... guaranteed to spark fierce debate' Irish Times
'A bravura exploration of why Americans are not cut out to be imperialists but nonetheless have an empire. Vigorous, substantive, and worrying' Timothy Garton Ash
The New York Times bestseller
'Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson has provided it' Eric Schmidt
What if everything we thought we knew about history was wrong? From Niall Ferguson, the global bestselling author of Empire, The Ascent of Money and Civilization, this is a whole new way of imagining the world.
Most history is hierarchical: it's about popes, presidents, and prime ministers. But what if that's simply because they create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks - leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati?
The twenty-first century has been hailed as the Networked Age. But in The Square and the Tower Niall Ferguson argues that social networks are nothing new. From the printers and preachers who made the Reformation to the freemasons who led the American Revolution, it was the networkers who disrupted the old order of popes and kings. Far from being novel, our era is the Second Networked Age, with the computer in the role of the printing press. Once we understand this, both the past, and the future, start to look very different indeed.
'Ambitious and illuminating ... the historian who more than most connects our age to its past' Evening Standard, Books of the Year
'Captivating and compelling' The New York Times
'Niall Ferguson has again written a brilliant book ... In 400 pages you will have restocked your mind. Do it' Wall Street Journal
SPECTATOR, NEW STATESMAN, TELEGRAPH, SUNDAY TIMES and FINANCIAL TIMES BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2015
No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. Hailed by some as the "indispensable man", whose advice has been sought by every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, Kissinger has also attracted immense hostility from critics who have cast him as an amoral Machiavellian - the ultimate cold-blooded "realist".
In this remarkable new book, the first of two volumes, Niall Ferguson has created an extraordinary panorama of Kissinger's world, and a paradigm-shifting reappraisal of the man. Only through knowledge of Kissinger's early life (as a Jew in Hitler's Germany, a poor immigrant in New York, a GI at the Battle of the Bulge, an interrogator of Nazis, and a student of history at Harvard) can we understand his debt to the philosophy of idealism.
And only by tracing his rise, fall and revival as an adviser to Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller and, finally, Richard Nixon can we appreciate the magnitude of his contribution to the theory of diplomacy, grand strategy and nuclear deterrence.
Drawing not only on Kissinger's hitherto closed private papers but also on documents from more than a hundred archives around the world, this biography is Niall Ferguson's masterpiece. Like his classic two-volume history of the House of Rothschild, Kissinger sheds dazzling new light on an entire era.