CIVILIZATION – Niall Ferguson – 2011 - book - A Classic Review - There is no doubt that we would all benefit from knowing more about the world around us. Niall Ferguson has written an historical perspective of how western culture succeeded in dominating the advance of civilization.
So, how did the west, and America, get to where it is today? After dominating the rise of civilization since around 1500, we now find our country neck deep in debt to China, a nation that is four times our size and populated by a burgeoning society, which mocks
and caricatures our own.
You may or may not agree with his political point of view, but you cannot deny that Mr. Ferguson’s narrative style turns the most dry and mundane historical minutia into
compelling, page-turning reading.
Why didn’t the philosophy of most scientifically and culturally advanced Asian civilizations of 1400, principally China, sweep across the Pacific and western Europe?
The Yongle Emperor, in an effort to increase foreign trade, built a fleet of 100 ships up to 300 feet in length and sent them out to explore the globe. The Mayas, Incas, Aztecs… all were thriving. What brought these long standing, successful cultures to their knees?
I’m hoping that someday a fictional account of history will be written in which China’s
fleets had sailed further north instead of south, and followed that chain of islands we call the Aleutians, to what is now North America. The timing would have coincided with Europe’s own invasion of the same territory. Undoubtedly there would have been a mind-bending cultural clash somewhere around Kansas. The world as we know it today
would not exist.
You will find this book to be an uplifting experience for it will leave you with a more full understanding of the foundations on which the world’s cultures are built. You will turn over the final page and maybe… just maybe…. start your own exploration. For that I recommend that you add to your list, Yuval Noah Harari’s book “Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind”, which I will write about in my next essay.