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The West and the Rest

Penguin Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Think the imperialistic, colonizing West is evil? Think again.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Eye Opening
  • Visionary


Europeans and Americans have taken some shots in recent decades. Even the most patriotic Westerner feels some self-doubt about a history that includes slavery and imperialism. But here comes Harvard professor and historian Niall Ferguson to offer a bracing pep talk, shouting: “We’re the best thing that ever happened to the world!” Ferguson argues that European and North American dominance was a gift to the globe, particularly when the alternatives were the then-stagnant cultures of China, Japan and the Muslim-dominated Middle East. While acknowledging the two great sins of the Western world – slavery and Nazism – he puts a brave face on everything else. Even the 20th-century Western invention of “total war” produced progress because it spawned so many medical advances. Ferguson is deliberately provocative and sometimes rambles, but he is always compelling. getAbstract recommends his fresh perspective on history and his entertaining rebuke of political correctness about the “West and the Rest.”


The Mystery of Economic Development

According to conventional wisdom, “colonialism” is responsible for all that ails the world. Authors, historians, politicians, professors, activists and the citizenry of former colonies blame European ruthlessness for everything from African poverty to Middle Eastern conflict. Academics fashionably dismiss the accomplishments of half a millennium of Western dominance to focus on the bad – slavery, the Nazis, the slaughter of indigenous peoples and destructive wars – while ignoring the good – democracy, affluence, better health and longer lives. Such pejorative analysis crops up in Western universities and in the palaces of dictators like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Even Gandhi said European civilizations had no redeeming qualities. Populist theory claims that Europeans followed their greedy, brutal instincts to impose misery on all humanity. This sweeping denunciation is demonstrably wrong. European imperialism had its ugly aspects, but advances in the quality of human life and in longer life spans worldwide have offset them.

Western primacy in modern history is striking, in part, because six centuries ago, the Black Death (1347-1351...

About the Author

Harvard University historian and professor Niall Ferguson’s numerous previous books include Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Cash Nexus, Empire and The Ascent of Money.

Comment on this summary

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    Ð. Ð. 7 years ago
    You can be translated into Russian ?
    • Avatar
      7 years ago
      Уважаемый читатель,
      Предлагаем Вам познакомиться с изложениями других книг на ту же тему:
      - Потерянный Запад. Пятьдесят лет экономической недальновидности – и тяжелый выбор в будущем
      - Почему Запад пока еще правит миром. Прогнозирование будущего на основе исторических закономерностей
      - Полушарие Новая Азия

      Мы будем Вам признательны, если Вы поделитесь с нами своими идеями о том, что включить в нашу русскую библиотеку, на специальной странице "Предложите книгу".

      Русская редакция getAbstract
  • Avatar
    S. F. 8 years ago
    Me pareció una excelente recomendación. Una visión muy interesante de occidente a lo largo de varios siglos y su comparación con medio oriente y Asia.

    Veo que el libro en Amazon cuesta US$11.31 Pero vale la pena

    Disfruté mucho el resumen
  • Avatar
    O. G. 10 years ago
    Its interesting reading has refreshed memory of the past. I like this.

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