Civilization: The West and the Rest
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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.
Yet now, Ferguson shows how the Rest have downloaded the killer apps the West once monopolized, while the West has literally lost faith in itself. Chronicling the rise and fall of empires alongside clashes (and fusions) of civilizations, Civilization: The West and the Rest recasts world history with force and wit. Boldly argued and teeming with memorable characters, this is Ferguson at his very best.
ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky. Finally, the moon rises over Desolation. There is not a living soul to be seen, only a few decaying columns and colonnades overgrown by briars and ivy. Conceived in the mid-1830s, Cole’s pentaptych has a clear message: all civilizations, no matter how magnificent, are condemned to decline and fall. The implicit suggestion was that the young American republic of Cole’s age would do better to
World-System. 36. Huntington, Clash of Civilizations. 37. See e.g. Kagan, Paradise and Power and, more recently, Schuker, ‘Sea Change’. 38. See most recently Osborne, Civilization. 39. Morris, Why the West Rules. 40. Brownworth, Lost to the West. 41. Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization. At the time of writing, it remains to be seen if the compliment will be returned. 42. Dawson, Making of Europe; Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. 43. Matthews, ‘Strange
printer Johann Grunenberg soon flooded the German market with religious tracts critical of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther’s most famous broadside, the Ninety-Five Theses against the Church’s sale of indulgences (as a form of penance for sin), was initially not published but nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. But it was not long before multiple copies of the theses appeared in print.18 Luther’s message was that ‘faith alone without works justifies, sets free,
demanded that ‘No man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax or such like charge without common consent by act of parliament.’ When a botched attempt to impose Laud’s Book of Common Prayer on Presbyterian Scotland ended in war, Charles was forced back to parliament, cap in hand. But rather than accept what became the Long Parliament’s violations of his royal prerogative, Charles raised the royal standard in August 1642, plunging the country into war. He lost and
colour line in states like South Carolina. By contrast, Angolans who were sent to South America had a significantly better chance of escaping from the prison of enslavement – sometimes literally, in the case of the fugitives from Pernambuco who founded their own independent colony of Quilombo, also known as Little Angola, in Palmares, deep in the jungle of the north-east Brazilian state of Alagoas. At its height, this little kingdom had a population of more than 10,000 and an elected chief, the