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Monday, June 18, 2007

The War of the World by Niall Ferguson

Unlike many histories of this kind published recently, Ferguson is a good writer. For those at odds with the typical droll of history writing, Ferguson’s prose is a breath of fresh air. In describing the carnage of the twentieth century, Ferguson manages to synthesize a wide array of cultural material as well and manages to give the epic conflicts of the twentieth century a depth beyond the typical string-of-battles writing typical of this genre. Beginning on September 11th, 1901, Ferguson manages to show how the empire-driven pre-WWI global economy functioned similarly to the way it would one hundred years later but for different reasons. He then proceeds into a short piece on WWI itself and then moves on to the Second World War which is the book’s main focus. Although he spends less time on the thesis he actually proposes (“the descent of the West”), he does manage to give clear precedents as to why America faces a tumult of conflict in the coming years with the rise of the East and the constriction of the global economy as America finds itself slipping into a smaller pair of pants. - Charles Mock


Nate Shurden said...

Thanks for the post Joe. I read "Pity of War" in college, and it proved to be a memorable experience. I think the long-term cultural and societal implications of WWI came home to me in Ferguson's accurate and lucid depiction of the devastation.