Patrick F's Reviews > Civilization: The West and the Rest

Civilization by Niall Ferguson
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's review
Jul 07, 2012

really liked it
Read on July 07, 2012

I give this book a four not because I agree with this, obviously, biased account of how "the West" dominated the world for the last 500 years, but because it was an enthralling read, and it's super enjoyable for me to challenge my own opinions and knowledge.

It's also, at times, relatively nuanced, and it does, in horrendous detail, explain the pseudo-science, hubris, and psychology that precipitated colonization, empire and imperialism, for example. The sections on Nazism, and how it grew from African colonization was something you just not would see discussed by other Neocons this honestly. (At least I've never read/heard any other Neocon do this.) That being said, much of the book is problematic. His categorical, and shallow, (and laughable) take down of all-things "Marxism", is but one example. The other salient categorical insult was shouted at Islam. Also, Ferguson's almost complete refusal to discuss ecological, environmental destruction and collapse, caused by the same "Western" ideals, values, and attitudes he admittedly mostly praises, was disappointing, yet expected.

Again, I highly enjoyed this book, and yes, in the hands of the uneducated, uncultured, or people with an agenda, the history provided will probably only reconfirm what they already think, and add fuel to their capitalistic-Eurocentric-loving fire. However, I am not one of those people, so I can "entertain a thought without accepting it."

So yes, if my rating 4( out of 5) was based on one factor - Did I agree with it? - I would have given the book a lower rating but I rate things differently with all sorts of factors in mind.

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