Modern history

Civilization: The West and the Rest

Civilization: The West and the Rest

Western civilization’s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries.

How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? Acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts, or “killer applications”—competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic—that the Rest lacked, allowing it to surge past all other competitors.

Introduction: Rasselas’s Question

Part I: Competition

Chapter 1. Two Rivers

Chapter 2. The Eunuch and the Unicorn

Chapter 3. The Spice Race

Chapter 4. The Mediocre Kingdom

Part II: Science

Chapter 5. The Siege

Chapter 6. Micrographia

Chapter 7. Osman and Fritz

Chapter 8. Tanzimat Tours

Chapter 9. From Istanbul to Jerusalem

Part III: Property

Chapter 10. New Worlds

Chapter 11. Land of the Free

Chapter 12. American Revolutions

Chapter 13. The Fate of the Gullahs

Part IV: Medicine

Chapter 14. Burke’s Prophecy

Chapter 15. The Juggernaut of War

Chapter 16. Médecins Sans Frontières

Chapter 17. The Skulls of Shark Island

Chapter 18. Black Shame

Part V: Consumption

Chapter 19. The Birth of the Consumer Society

Chapter 20. Turning Western

Chapter 21. Ragtime to Riches

Chapter 22. The Jeans Genie

Chapter 23. Pyjamas and Scarves

Part VI: Work

Chapter 24. Work Ethic and Word Ethic

Chapter 25. Get your Kicks

Chapter 26. The Chinese Jerusalem

Chapter 27. Lands of Unbelief

Chapter 28. The End of Days?


Conclusion: The Rivals