3 [76] Weinberg accused Ferguson of distorting both German and British history and ignoring any evidence that did not fit with his thesis that Britain should never have fought Germany, stating that The Pity of War was interesting as a historical provocation, but was not persuasive as history. As the world went into lockdown early in 2020, many of us without frontline jobs and lucky enough not to fall sick with Covid-19 found more time to read than usual. One obvious answer is that China had the potential, in all kinds of respects, to achieve rapid growth through trade. [56] Andrew Roberts praised the book in The New York Times,[57] concluding: "Niall Ferguson already has many important, scholarly and controversial books to his credit. You don't get those years back. I have a totally different view from someone like my friend Richard Dawkins, or the late lamented Christopher Hitchens. He graduated with a first-class honours degree in history in 1985. Read In 1989, Ferguson worked as a research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge. [91][92] In November 2011 Pankaj Mishra reviewed Civilisation: The West and the Rest unfavourably in the London Review of Books. In 2015, Ferguson deplored the Paris attacks committed by Islamic State terrorists, but stated he was not going to "stand" with the French as he argued that France was a lost cause, a declining state faced with an unstoppable Islamic wave that would sweep away everything that tried to oppose it. So I think we’re at the point when the problems that are inevitably going to arise haven’t yet hit. Here, Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy, chair of this year's judging panel, talks us through the books that made the 2020 shortlist. The sudden change to a slower gear also left more room to reflect on the state of the world and our place as humans in it. [20] Ferguson is critical of what he calls the "self-flagellation" that he says characterises modern European thought.[20]. That argument seems to me still to be relevant today, and one that people who quote him seem to have forgotten. "Introduction to Tzvetan Todorov" in Nicholas Owen (ed.). I think much the same could be said of many of the policies that we [in the US] now pursue. He has credited his family for instilling within him a love for writing and critical thought. The sound of Kenyan women singing, the smell of the first rain after the dry season and the taste of fresh mango – these are some of Niall Ferguson's boyhood memories. To me, the historical process brings more to mind the life cycle of a human being, in which you can have dramatic discontinuities triggered by really quite small events. Today, you have an empire in decline in the form of the United States. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. But he misses how Kissinger revised Kant to embrace a … That most soldiers hated fighting in the war (Ferguson argues most soldiers fought more or less willingly). John Gray in a review of the book was not convinced. According to Ferguson, Britain should have stayed out of World War I and allowed Imperial Germany to smash France and Russia and create a continental empire from the Atlantic to the Middle East. Read What I like about Tolstoy is the kind of Christian fundamentalism – not the sort that one encounters in the Bible Belt, but the kind that takes Christianity very seriously. In particular, Ferguson accused the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey of maintaining an ambiguous attitude to the question of whether Britain would enter the war or not, and thus confusing Berlin over just what was the British attitude towards the question of intervention in the war. Niall Ferguson. [15], Ferguson studied as a Hanseatic Scholar in Hamburg and Berlin in 1987 and 1988. I fear we have done no better than our grandfathers did. Though it fought many small wars, the empire maintained a global peace unmatched before or since. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at editor@fivebooks.com. But isn’t it the consensus among economists such as Paul Krugman that intervention saved the US from what could have been an even worse mess? The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Then I added: “Some opposition research on Mr O might also be worthwhile”—a reference to the leader of the protests. What happened to Northern Rock [in 2007] happened to the Ayr bank [in Scotland in 1772]. Fellow travellers—the leftists who line up with the Muslim Brotherhood to castigate Israel at every opportunity. An Autobiography Of course. [61] Ferguson has argued that the British decision to intervene was what stopped a German victory in 1914–15. We publish at least two new interviews per week. He explains how he prefers a philosophy of history that emphasises the contingent and the chaotic, rather than the neatly predictable. [38], In the first lecture, held at the London School of Economics, titled The Human Hive, Ferguson argues for greater openness from governments, saying they should publish accounts which clearly state all assets and liabilities. He explains how he prefers a philosophy of history that emphasises the contingent and the chaotic, rather than the neatly predictable. Pankaj Mishra writes: Niall Ferguson’s strenuous attempts to distinguish himself from Stoddard – which make him flag his differences with, of all people, George Wallace – are misplaced. A century ago it was the West’s great blunder to think it would not matter if Lenin and his confederates took over the Russian Empire, despite their stated intention to plot world revolution and overthrow both democracy and capitalism. Yes, it's clear. He wrote, "Man, with his unrivaled neural network, was born to network. See all books authored by Niall Ferguson, including The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, and Civilization: The West and the Rest, and more on ThriftBooks.com. [100], Matthew Carr wrote in Race & Class that "Niall Ferguson, the conservative English [sic] historian and enthusiastic advocate of a new American empire, has also embraced the Eurabian idea in a widely reproduced article entitled 'Eurabia? The Empire produced durable changes and globalisation with steampower, telegraphs, and engineers.[42][43]. Bring it on. "[138], During the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, Ferguson was initially critical of the idea of Britain leaving the EU, warning that "the economic consequences will be dire". [51], Published in 2011, Civilization: The West and the Rest examines what Ferguson calls the most "interesting question" of our day: "Why, beginning around 1500, did a few small polities on the western end of the Eurasian landmass come to dominate the rest of the world?" [36], The books were widely acclaimed by some historians,[78] although they did receive some criticism. [12] He was brought up as, and remains, an atheist, though he has encouraged his children to study religion and attends church occasionally.[13]. It’s a tremendously modern work in the way that it represents the relationship between the media and warfare. [53] Ferguson argued the rowdy and savage competition between European merchants created far more wealth than did the static and ordered society of Qing China. Harvard historian Niall Ferguson tells us about the diverse influences on his work, from Keynes and Tolstoy to an Austrian satirist. I rather like Christianity, and am attracted by many aspects of Christ’s teachings. [18] In 2016 Ferguson left Harvard[19] to become a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he had been an adjunct fellow since 2005. In 1998, Ferguson published The Pity of War: Explaining World War One, which with the help of research assistants he was able to write in just five months. If only they had had different kinds of institutions, they could have been so much more economically successful – as we have seen in our own time. "Globalization in historical perspective: The political dimension", in Michael D. Bordo, Alan M. Taylor and Jeffrey G. Williamson (eds.). Do it. [114] Later, after backing the Remain campaign during the referendum, Ferguson changed his mind and came out in support of Britain's exit from the EU. The only thing that came of the emails was that their circulation led to my stepping down.". The meetings of the student committee were repeatedly postponed. Furthermore, Ferguson expressed disagreement with the Sonderweg interpretation of German history championed by some German historians such as Fritz Fischer, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans Mommsen and Wolfgang Mommsen, who argued that the German Empire deliberately started an aggressive war in 1914. [110] Ferguson argued that a quintumvirate of Trump, Putin, Xi, May and Le Pen was the world's best hope for peace and prosperity. You can swallow a chapter a night before sleep and your dreams will overflow with scenes of Stendhal's 'The Red and the Black,' Napoleon, Kissinger. Niall Ferguson is a British historian, and the Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. His name was Hokusai and he published The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki nami-ura) at some point between 1829 and 1833. Read From 2010 to 2011, Ferguson held the Philippe Roman Chair in history and international affairs at the London School of Economics. As with his earlier work Empire, War of the World was accompanied by a Channel 4 television series presented by Ferguson. [148][149][150] In an interview in April 2011, Ferguson complained about the media coverage of his relationship with Ali, stating: "No, I never read their shitty coverage of people's private lives. I suppose that, as a middle-aged man, I react differently to Tolstoy than I did when I first read War and Peace at about 15. But if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don't rule it out.[20]. Niall Ferguson; Niall Ferguson. The book also explores the history of Kissinger joining the Kennedy administration and later becoming critical of its foreign policy, to supporting Nelson Rockefeller on three failed presidential bids, to finally joining the Nixon administration. That Germany was a highly militarist country before 1914 (Ferguson claims Germany was Europe's most anti-militarist country). [62] Ferguson accused London of unnecessarily allowing a regional war in Europe to escalate into a world war. [47], The German-born American historian Gerhard Weinberg in a review of The Pity of War strongly criticized Ferguson for advancing the thesis that it was idiotic for Britain to have fought a Germany that allegedly posed no danger. [4] He once ironically called himself "a fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang" following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. "[59] "Niall Ferguson has again written a brilliant book," wrote Deirdre McCloskey in The Wall Street Journal,[60] "this time in defence of traditional top-down principles of governing the wild market and the wilder international order. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford in 1989: his dissertation was titled "Business and Politics in the German Inflation: Hamburg 1914–1924".[17]. For the alternatives to British rule represented by the German and Japanese empires were clearly – and they admitted it themselves – far worse. “Now we turn to the more subtle game of grinding them down on the committee. That naval challenges mounted by Germany drove Britain into informal alliances with France and Russia before 1914 (Ferguson claims the British chose alliances with France and Russia as a form of appeasement due to the strength of those nations, and an Anglo-German alliance failed to materialize due to German weakness). You presumably feel Scottish solidarity with Adam Smith? In an interview with The Guardian, Ferguson spoke about his love for Ali, whom, he writes in the preface, "understands better than anyone I know what Western civilisation really means – and what it still has to offer the world".[20]. Niall Campbell Ferguson (; born 18 April 1964) is a Scottish-born historian. [123], In 2013, Ferguson, naming Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers, attacked "Krugman and his acolytes," in his three-part essay on why he dislikes Paul Krugman. Or read, for example, the last volume of Robert Skidelsky’s wonderful biography. by RG Collingwood If you've enjoyed this interview, please support us by donating a small amount. Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. The first lecture was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service on Tuesday, 19 June 2012. [16] He had become a Thatcherite by 1982. He is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. "Prisoner taking and prisoner killing in the age of total war", in George Kassemiris (ed.). "I very much regret the publication of these emails. I don't care about the sex lives of celebrities, so I was a little unprepared for having my private life all over the country. And without its empire, it is inconceivable that Britain could have withstood them. In Ferguson's opinion, this process was already under way in a decadent 'post-Christian' Europe that was drifting inexorably towards the dark denouement of a vanquished civilisation and the fatal embrace of Islam.[103]. [30] Ferguson was also an adviser to Morgan Stanley, the investment bank. And the counterfactual idea that somehow the indigenous rulers would have been more successful in economic development doesn't have any credibility at all. [50] While researching this book, in early 2007, Ferguson attended a session at a conference in Las Vegas at which a hedge fund manager stated there would never be another recession. [112], Ferguson was an attendee of the 2012 Bilderberg Group meeting, where he was a speaker on economic policy. Read. [3] He is known for his positive views concerning the British Empire. Kraus gets high marks. [10][11] He attended The Glasgow Academy. In the early 2000s he wrote a weekly column for The Sunday Telegraph and Los Angeles Times,[34] leaving in 2007 to become a contributing editor to the Financial Times. "'The Caucasian Royal Family': The Rothschilds in national contexts" in R. Liedtke (ed.). He was well aware of the dangers of corporations, and particularly of banks. [46] The American writer Michael Lind, responding to Ferguson's advocation of an enlarged American military through conscription, accused Ferguson of engaging in apocalyptic alarmism about the possibility of a world without the United States as the dominant power and of a casual disregard for the value of human life. The main problem is that if you push the envelope so that it reaches, let’s say, 90% of GDP, then there comes a point when loans will not be given to you at the low rate you have got used to. 1923–1968: The Idealist, "Conversation with Niall Ferguson: Being a Historian", "Civilisation: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson: review", "Review Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 384 pp", "Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and Its Lessons for Global Power, Review", "Letters: The British empire and deaths in Kenya", "This attempt to rehabilitate empire is a recipe for conflict", "Niall Ferguson threatens to sue over accusation of racism", "India Conquered | Book by Jon Wilson | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster UK", "Jon Wilson: The job of a historian is to be diagnostic", http://www.niallferguson.com/journalism/history/we-let-lenin-rise-millions-died.-now-its-islamism, https://twitter.com/nfergus/status/973638691108290561, "The Specter of Donald Trump Is Haunting Davos", "Trump pitches, Clinton swings. He’s big on counterfactuals, questions of “what if?”. "[136], In 2011, Ferguson predicted that Grexit (the notion of Greece leaving the Euro currency) was unlikely to happen, but that Britain would leave the European Union in the near future as it would be easier for Britain to leave the EU owing to the fact it was not part of the Eurozone and that returning to a national currency would be harder for countries who had signed up to a single currency. The other thing about Tolstoy is that he left this [faith] until late in life. They are listed here (with his counter-arguments in parentheses): Another controversial aspect of The Pity of War is Ferguson's use of counterfactual history also known as "speculative" or "hypothetical" history. Karl Kraus was an Austrian satirist, and The Last Days of Mankind is a satirical play about the First World War and Austria-Hungary. 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