Winner of the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize 2013
In 1412, Europe was a miserable backwater ravaged by plague, bad sanitation and incessant war, while the Orient was home to dazzling civilizations. Yet, somehow, the West came to dominate the Rest for most of the next half millennium.
In this vital, brilliant book, Niall Ferguson reveals the six 'killer applications' that the Rest lacked: competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic. And he asks: do we still have these winning tools? Or is this the end of Western ascendancy?
'Brilliantly written, full of wit and virtuosity, stuffed with memorable lines and gorgeous bits of information. A great read' The Times
'A dazzling history of Western ideas ... epic' Economist
'Vivid and fascinating' Daily Telegraph
'Superb ... brings history alive ... dazzling' Independent
'This is sharp. It feels urgent. Ferguson ... twists his knife with great literary brio' Andrew Marr, Financial Times
Niall Ferguson's acclaimed bestseller on the highs and lows of Britain's empire
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
'A remarkably readable précis of the whole British imperial story - triumphs, deceits, decencies, kindnesses, cruelties and all' Jan Morris
'Empire is a pleasure to read and brims with insights and intelligence' Sunday Times
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
The abridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Niall Ferguson's epic and highly readable history, The Ascent of Money.
Behind each great historical phenomenon there lies a financial secret - Niall Ferguson uncovers the hidden stories behind history.
Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot. Call it what you like, it matters now more than ever. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is the foundation of all human progress and the lifeblood of history.
From the cash injection that funded the Italian Renaissance to the stock market bubble that sparked the French Revolution, from the bonds that fuelled Britain's war effort to the Wall Street Crash and today's meltdown, this is the story of boom and bust as it's never been told before.
Whether you're scraping by or rolling in it, there's no better time to understand the ascent of money.
'Riveting ... this will be his masterpiece' - Andrew Roberts, The New York Times
'For big, bold and compelling, it is impossible to ignore Kissinger' - John Bew, New Statesman, Books of the Year
'This is a superb history of the modern world as well as a biography of Kissinger ... a tour de force' William Shawcross, The Times
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.
A moving, raw and powerful novel about fighting on the front - 'The finest and noblest book of men in war that I have ever read' (Ernest Hemingway)
Bourne is a private fighting on the front. He is under pressure to accept a commission and become an officer, but he prefers to be among the ranks, drawn into the universal struggle for survival in a world gone mad.
Manning's startling work is unlike any other First World War novel in its portrayal of the lives of ordinary British soldiers: the trauma of the Somme; the moments of bloodlust; the camaraderie, rivalry, alcohol and boredom. Considered obscene for its language and previously published in censored form as Her Privates We, The Middle Parts of Fortune appears here in its raw, unexpurgated version.
The decline of the West is something that has long been prophesied. Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, ageing populations. But what exactly is amiss with Western civilization? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, is that the institutions that were once the four pillars of Western society - representative government, the free market, the rule of law and civil society - are degenerating.
The Great Degeneration is a powerful indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. To stop us frittering away the institutional inheritance of centuries, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.
'A refreshing perspective on the economic decline of advanced countries and the origins of the crisis' Samuel Brittan, Financial Times
'He writes with splendid panache and a seemingly effortless, debonair wit' The Times
'One of the most incisive writers of history, politics and economics today' Sunday Telegraph
'Niall Ferguson has transformed the intellectual landscape' Economist
The Cash Nexus is the controversial history of money's central place in the world, from Niall Ferguson, bestselling author of Empire and Civilization
Generations of historians have shied away from the truth behind the cliche: money makes the world go around. International bestseller Niall Ferguson answers the big questions about finance and its crucial place in bringing happiness and despair, warfare and welfare, boom and crash to nations buffeted by the onward march of history. Starting in 1700 and ending today, The Cash Nexus is a dazzling, powerful and controversial explanation of modern world history and the fundamental force that lurks behind it all.
About the author:
Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization and The Great Degeneration. He has written and presented six highly successful television series for Channel Four: Empire, American Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, Civilization and China: Triumph and Turmoil.
This is the extraordinary story of Siegmund Warburg: the refugee from Nazi Germany who restored the Blitz-shattered City of London as the world's preeminent international financial centre. In recounting how this brilliant, scholarly man brought wit, passion and, above all, high ethical standards to the world of finance, Niall Ferguson shows how his meticulous methods were the antithesis of the debt-fuelled, speculative banking of our times.
'A fascinating portrait ... Beautifully paced, dramatically subtle and psychologically shrewd ... Warburg is an emblem of money as it ought to be, and now isn't' Bryan Appleyard, New Statesman
'Extensively researched and beautifully written' Peter Stormonth Darling, Spectator
'Ferguson's account of Warburg's life not only reveals a prophet of European unification and, later, globalization, but a banker from a more responsible (and civilised) era' Peter Mandelson, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'A timely, original and engaging biography' Sathnam Sanghera, The Times
'Financially literate, extremely thorough, deploying dazzling breadth of cultural reference ... Ferguson has produced a fine historical biography. He has also reminded us, regrettably, that Warburg has no peer in the financial world today' Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
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.
The First World War killed around eight million men and bled Europe dry. In this provocative book Niall Ferguson asks: was the sacrifice worth it? Was it all really an inevitable cataclysm and were the Germans a genuine threat? Was the war, as is often asserted, greeted with popular enthusiasm? Why did men keep on fighting when conditions were so wretched? Was there in fact a death wish abroad, driving soldiers to their own destruction? The war, he argues, was a disaster - but not for the reasons we think. Far worse than a tragedy, it was the greatest error of modern history.
'The most challenging and provocative analysis of the First World War to date' Ian Kershaw
'Must take a permanent place at the top of the War's historiography. It is one of the very few books whose own scale matches that of the events it describes' Alan Clark, Daily Telegraph
'Possibly the most important book to appear in years both on the origins of the First World War ... Ferguson can confidently claim to have inherited A. J. P. Taylor's mantle' Paul Kennedy, New York Review of Books
'At one massive stroke, Niall Ferguson has transformed the intellectual landscape' Economist
The beginning of the twentieth century saw human civilization at its most enlightened, well-educated, globalized and wealthy. What turned it into a bloodbath?
Niall Ferguson re-tells the story of history's most savage century as a continual war that raged for 100 years. From the plains of Poland to the killing fields of Cambodia, he reveals how economic boom-and-bust, decaying empires and, above all, poisonous ideas of race led men to treat each other as aliens. It was an age of hatred that ended with the twilight, not the triumph, of the West. And, he shows, it could happen all over again.
'A heartbreaking, serious and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic' Simon Sebag Montefiore, The New York Times
'Unputdownable, controversial, compelling' Independent on Sunday
'The grenade lobbed into the cosy tea party of received wisdom' Max Hastings
'A big, bold and brilliantly belligerent book' Sunday Telegraph
'History at its most controversial ... no one can afford to overlook it' Allan Mallinson
'Hums with energy, quotable insights and pithy summaries' Observer
'Gripping' Tristram Hunt
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 most brilliant British historian of his generation' -The Times
Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization and The Great Degeneration. His Kissinger, a feature-length film based on his interviews with Henry Kissinger, won the 2011 New York Film Festival prize for best documentary.
His many other prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).
Author image © Dewald Aukema