Historian Niall Ferguson delivers a fresh, popular take on history. Throughout, he makes the point that two forces shape world events: influential social networks and powerful hierarchies. Though he acknowledges that others have explored the social network view of history, Ferguson uses his gossipy analysis of the global influence of old-boy networks – such as at Oxford and Cambridge universities and in the Saxe-Coburg and Rothschild dynasties – to serve up delicious food for thought. This romp through mostly modern, mostly Western history will delight amateur historians with its fast-paced, gripping narrative. Academics may not find Ferguson’s sometimes-contradictory arguments about the centrality of networks and the irrelevance of conspirators convincing – leaving experts with a text they may see as largely unoriginal. But Ferguson’s passion for his subject and determination to inform laypeople make this an entertaining, informative read.
About the Author
Historian Niall Ferguson serves on the faculty of Stanford University and Tsinghua University in Beijing.