The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West

The War of the World Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West Astonishing in its scope and erudition this is the magnum opus that Niall Ferguson s numerous acclaimed works have been leading up to In it he grapples with perhaps the most challenging questions of

  • Title: The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West
  • Author: Niall Ferguson
  • ISBN: 9780143112396
  • Page: 410
  • Format: Paperback
  • Astonishing in its scope and erudition, this is the magnum opus that Niall Ferguson s numerous acclaimed works have been leading up to In it, he grapples with perhaps the most challenging questions of modern history Why was the twentieth century history s bloodiest by far Why did unprecedented material progress go hand in hand with total war and genocide His quest forAstonishing in its scope and erudition, this is the magnum opus that Niall Ferguson s numerous acclaimed works have been leading up to In it, he grapples with perhaps the most challenging questions of modern history Why was the twentieth century history s bloodiest by far Why did unprecedented material progress go hand in hand with total war and genocide His quest for new answers takes him from the walls of Nanjing to the bloody beaches of Normandy, from the economics of ethnic cleansing to the politics of imperial decline and fall The result, as brilliantly written as it is vital, is a great historian s masterwork.

    927 Comment

    • Matt says:

      The explanations that we learn in high school for history's most horrible events tend to remain with us unchanged, unless we really look deep. Ferguson challenges many of the assumptions about the causes of the 20th Century's dreadful violence and is convincing. Living in Jerusalem, I've often seen how conventional wisdom about the persistent violence of the Middle East seems to miss the mark. That only makes me more convinced that Ferguson is right in refusing to accept the reasons advanced by [...]

    • Chris says:

      This is the first book by Ferguson that I've read. I was pleased with this effort--it was well-researched, and although it covers material amply familiar to any 20th century history buff, it was engaging not only because of Ferguson's fluid style but also because of his unconventional take on the causes and dynamics of human conflict and cruelty. You may or may not agree with some of his interpretations but he makes convincing arguments which make one want to research the topic in greater depth. [...]

    • Matt says:

      "No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man'sat as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studiedWith infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter." -- H.G. Wells, The War of the WorldsNiall Ferguson, the young Oxford fellow who gratingly insists upon h [...]

    • Carlo Ba says:

      Typical Book written by and made for Establishment.2 out of 5 Stars. Ferguson didn't add any thing new to the historical view of "World War" but only reinforced the same old song and dance.As a Hedge Fund Investment Banker during the height of the Financial Crisis, I found "his" research a bit disingenuous that he didn't write a thing about how banks FUND most of the wars around the Globe especially when the title of this book is "The War of the World".He admits in the credits that he had at lea [...]

    • Trevor says:

      There is something about this guy’s work that is a little annoying. Like his The Ascent of Money, it was almost there, but not quite. I needed something on World War Two recently and saw this and bought it, but it has a much broader interest than just that conflict.The idea behind this is fascinating – pretty much that we like to think most of the conflicts of the last century were ideological, when in fact they were mostly ethnic. There is some fascinating stuff on the formation of Turkey a [...]

    • Stephen McQuiggan says:

      From Nanking to Visegrad, from Manchuria to Auschwitz, the hatred in this breeze-block of a tome is shocking; and we talk of the 'darkness' of serial killers instead of governments. The Second World War takes up the bulk - there is surprisingly little on 911 or the Arab Spring which renders his argument that global warfare is over a little specious at times. Ferguson posits that the 20th century saw the decline of the West and the beginning of the dominance of Asia; it's hard to argue with after [...]

    • Curtis says:

      OK today I have the time to follow up on this book. This is a bit off the cuff but for those undergraduates of you who didn't read it until the day before you were assigned to speak in front of the class it will give you some nuggets to work with.Firstly the author Mr. Furguson has a penchant for writing what one might almost call big history that is looking beyond the titles we find convenient when analyzing say the 20s or the 30s or even World Wars One and Two. This author may delve into some [...]

    • Libyrinths says:

      Ferguson attempts to address the question of what made the 20th C so bloody with a surprising hypothesis. He says that racism and ethnic hostilities were the culprit, triggered by economic volatility and declining empires. He then, beginning with WWI and ending in current times but focusing mostly on WWII, describes the ethnic and racist aspects of major wars, minor wars, wars within wars, internal wars of totalitarian regimes, etc. He calls his premise a hypothesis, and he makes a good start at [...]

    • Ben says:

      Pretty poor. Tries to be "controversial" and "iconoclastic" etc, but is actually a pretty standard history of WW2 with few if any new insights. What's worse, it has little logic (he often contradicts himself: at one time WW1 is shown by analysis of the financial markets to be completely unexpected and a few pages later it's the outcome of a long period of rising tension), and shows little historical sense (quite reasonably slagging off Bernard Shaw for falling for Stalin's regime, he never asks [...]

    • Elliott Bignell says:

      The fall of Empires, says Ferguson in this impressively solid masterpiece, is generally more bloody than their rise. Even without his thorough account of a century of conflict and the extinction of the European Empires and recent rise of Asia, the conclusion would be hard to deny, as the industrial age culminated in a series of crimes so vast as to eclipse the public conscience of earlier wars. Not for nothing is the Godwin the ultimate signal that an internet thread has descended into anarchy.J [...]

    • Nick Black says:

      This is not "a revolutionary look at humanity's most murderous century" so much as a scattershot economic and military history of Eurasia, 1940-1945. There's several places where Ferguson attacks other authors' claims, but targets rather dubious, second-rate literature--there's no great corrections to Shirer, or Trevor-Roper, or Beevor, or Tuchman, or any of the other accepted canon. These challenges furthermore regard "controversies" like to what depth Stalin had planed a preemptive invasion of [...]

    • Tim says:

      Brilliant! This is a very serious and dense book when Ferguson explores the deep themes of war. His main premise is that in the 50 years between the start of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904/5 and the end of the Korean War, that more humans died in conflicts that at any time in the history of mankind. He documents that opinion at length and explores major themes:- economic volatility,- ethnic conflict; and- the descent of European power.Details: Ferguson explores issues of racial tension in very s [...]

    • Paul says:

      This is a book about killing. That's about it. Mostly it's about the mass extermination of humans. And the economics of killing lots and lots and lots of people. If you're interested in why people hate and kill millions of people, this might be a book for you. But there isn't even much "why" in the book. There are a lot of numbers. Pages and pages of numbersof peoplelled by the tens of thousands. There's not much else in its 646 pages. Niall Ferguson is a well-respected historian. He looks great [...]

    • David says:

      Bloody brilliantis is what revisionist history should be.a second reading has left me less enthused but still a very good bookbut the descent of the West? Only if you decided America cannot be included in this. The 20th was, after all, the American century and the East did not begin its true rise until near the end of the EU propagandabut a very good book for all that.

    • David Readmont-Walker says:

      Great robin. Harrowing.

    • Tripp says:

      Niall Ferguson writes thick history books with controversial ideas. His argued in the Pity of War that Britain should have just sat out World War One and dealt with a German dominated Europe. In Colossus, he put forth the idea that the world needs America to be a real empire, but believed the country isn't up to the tasks. One of more recent books is War of the World which explores the incredibly violent 20th century. His argument is that the break up of empires and the expansion of the national [...]

    • Steven Peterson says:

      Niall Ferguson's The War of the World has received a fair amount of "buzz." And, indeed, as one reads it, the scholarship, the knowledge of historical nuances, and the command of the sweep of the 20th century are all readily apparent. However, in the end, the book is somewhat unsatisfying. The book begins with an interesting notion, namely that life was rapidly improving as the twentieth century began. However, the puzzle addressed by Ferguson follows from that: why did the rest of the century b [...]

    • Mary Ronan Drew says:

      Niall Ferguson approaches history from an economic point of view. This gives them something most histories of the 20th century do not have. His research is careful and he thinks about things in a new way. This was one of the best books I've read in the last year. Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say:"Why, if life was improving so rapidly for so many people at the dawn of the 20th century, were the next hundred years full of brutal conflict? Ferguson has a relatively simple answer: ethnic un [...]

    • Christopher says:

      I have now read four of Mr. Ferguson's works, the others being Empire, Colossus, and The Ascent of Money, and this one is by far his best work (although, Empire was great too). No other book on WWII has done what this one has done: explained WHY WWII happened and WHY it was so violent. All other books explain HOW WWII transpired, but this one cuts right to the meat of the matter. The results and conclusions are devastating to anyone with a firm belief in humanity's central goodness. Mr. Ferguson [...]

    • Jonathan says:

      Niall Ferguson's breath-taking overview of the violent 20th century is certainly worth the time taken to read it. Even with my familiarity with history, I feel that there was something to learn and contemplate on every page. While his conclusions are complex and difficult to sum up, the endless atrocities of the bloody previous century were a result of man's infinite ability to see other classes, ethnic groups, religions and tribes as enemies, and practice unconstrained mass brutality, whether d [...]

    • Dan says:

      This is, by far, Niall Ferguson's most dangerous book. In what many believe to be a far-flung example of historical revisionism, Ferguson attempts to explain the 20th Century as one long episode of racial conflict. In the process, the line is often blurred as to who the heroes and villains of the century actually were. Ferguson's critique of the allied forces at the end of the WWII might leave a good many allied vets more than a little chafed. This book also takes a foray into interpretive histo [...]

    • D.A.Calf says:

      I came upon this book by way of the six-part documentary of the same name which based on the book and narrated by Ferguson. I knew of Ferguson prior but only his work on Economic History. Anyhow, the documentary is good but it doesn't give you an idea of the sheer detail contained in this book. In fact I willingly left this book after it's coverage of WW2 concluded. I felt two things at that moment: that if I read on it'd be lost in a sea of twentieth century politico-military history, and; that [...]

    • Ryan says:

      Well written, but Ferguson never really gets around to the "descent of the West" part of the book. The story is mostly a boiled down account of the first half of the 20th century with less than novel emphasis on the idea that much of the conflict was in fact ethnically driven and that even the victors did not come away from the era with clean hands.

    • Daniel Kibsgaard says:

      An enlightening read that gives the events of the 20th century an informed analysis using a very wide range of historical sources. A fantastic read I recommend to anyone who wishes to have a deeper view of our own inhumane past.

    • Asrik says:

      Talk about and effing tome! Sheesh!

    • port22 says:

      The First World War was sudden and a surprise, the Second World war started not in 1939 in Poland but in 1937 by Japan in China, even during their pinnacle of power in 1942 Germany and Japan were doomed.While there are many unexpected revelations in "War of the World", Ferguson didn't set out on a mission to overturn what we know about the events of the 20th century, his plan was to deliver deeper understanding of the forces that propelled the civilization. The book stays away from chronicling b [...]

    • Andrew says:

      Vast research on the origins, idiosyncrasies, and parallels, of 20th century conflict.

    • BertieRussell says:

      This book has two glaring flaws: 1) It's poorly organized and 2) It has many loose ends: A provocative thesis, that is desultorily pursued, and therefore not convincingly substantiated. It was frustrating going over the book again and again, in hope of finding evidence, only to be disappointed anew.But however tentative our conclusions, the questions this book grapples with are perennially relevant and concern us all. Will the 21st century be less violent than the 2oth ? What factors contributed [...]

    • Dave N says:

      There's too much to say about this book to fit here. Consider this an off-the-cuff review while it's still fresh in my mind, and with sincere intent to revisit it with a fuller critique down the line.I'm not exactly sure what Ferguson was trying to do with this book. At times it reads like a comprehensive history of the inter-war years, highlighting events that show a continuity between them. But, at other times, it's a rehashing of common historical information that neither challenges mainstrea [...]

    • Katie says:

      Had to finish this because I'm facilitating a book club discussion on it. I have other issues, but my main takeaway is resentment at all the reading I would have actually enjoyed/learned something from that the time reading this book displaced.

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