Civilization: The West and the Rest
By Niall Ferguson
Penguin Press, 2011. 402 pgs. Nonfiction
In ‘Civilization’, Niall Ferguson attempts to answer the question of why the West has dominated the world over the past five or six centuries. He provides what he feels are six key strengths the West enjoyed. One of these strengths was the fierce competitiveness held between all the small countries that make up Europe. Another was the development of the Protestant work ethic that encouraged the building of industry and wealth. These ideas are carefully presented with entertaining examples and enlightening explanations.
This is a further development to Jared Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’. However, Diamond’s scope was much bigger encompassing the history of all Earth’s civilizations and focuses more on how the Earth’s resources shaped the survival of those civilizations while Ferguson’s theories are more about the cultural resources that aided in the West’s rise and potential fall. This is a very intriguing work providing readers with both a history of where we have been and a warning about where we may be headed.