The War of the World

The War of the World

by Niall Ferguson


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From the bestselling author of The Ascent of Money and The Square and the Tower

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143112396
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 880
Sales rank: 245,019
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 8.37(h) x 1.53(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A heartbreaking, serious and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic . . . superb narrative history."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Ferguson's best book, by far, since The Pity of War . . . from bond markets to the face of battle, he has returned to the themes of his earlier book and to his strengths."
-Paul Kennedy, The New York Review of Books

"Wielding at once the encyclopedic knowledge of an accomplished scholar and the engaging prose of a master storyteller, Ferguson commendably brings fresh insights to a history by now familiar. . . . A tour de force."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"Even those who have read widely in 20th-century history will find fresh, surprising details."
-The Boston Globe

"A fascinating read, thanks to Ferguson's gifts as a writer of clear, energetic narrative history."
-The Washington Post

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The War of the World 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Skitch41 More than 1 year ago
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 shows how every nation involved in the war was also involved in some sort of crime that goes against the idealistic rules of war. Not even America is spared from being tagged with war crimes, as the carpet and fire bombings of civilian culminating in the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki show. This book gives further proof that war, even a necessary war like WWII, is still a blight upon mankind. Any person opposed to war purely on moral and idealistic grounds would do well to read this book and use its analysis and conclusions as a part of their argument. In short, this is a necessary book to be read by anyone interested not just in WWII, but in 20th century history and conflict and in discovering the true depths of human depravity, which are, to judge from Mr. Ferguson's work, staggering. Not only that, but certain parallels to today's world should make everyone concerned about the potentials of a "Second War of the World."
RMarchesani More than 1 year ago
Ferguson's approach to writing about the horrors of World War II is predominantly statistical. He provides very detailed data relating to virtually every aspect of waging war, i.e. actual tons of war material, numbers of planes, shells, ships, and guns used in various battles.
At times the reading can be tedious as he painstakingly scours over the names of every geographic city, village, and urban center involved in a battle.However, he opens up drawers that reveal the horror of war not known by most people.
Most importantly, he attempts to enlighten his readers on the actual decisions that were made, and that many of these decisions put our famed leaders in a bad light. He is a bit hard on the American contribution to the war, and often notes that they tend to take credit for work that was actually accomplished by the British and French. Indeed, at times he almost seems anti-American.
However, he makes no statements without strict documentation and delivers a clear picture of what actually happened.
I would think that this book should be on the syllabus for any history course that examines the political and national policies that shaped the 20th century.
RajivC on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book indeed. I like the way that he writes, and clearly builds up the entire momentum of events leading up to World War I and World War II. The book has clearly been researched very well indeed, and there are new perspectives to be found almost at every turn of the book.This is a book that clearly has to be digested well, and has to be read slowly. It is heavy going, and you cannot decide to charge through the book in one week. It took me some time to get through it, and I will probably come back to the book again.I cannot, however, agree with the blurb that it is a history of mankind's century of hate. While the last century may well be one that has seen the most hatred in all of man's history, the book focusses on the two major events - the world wars. It does not cover India's Partition, or the period of Hindu-Muslim strife that has followed, or other such events that have criss-crossed the world. The end, where he draws inspiration from HG Wells book "The War of the Worlds", is masterful. It is a reminder to me, to buy that book as well..
kerns222 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wanna bring someone down¿give them this big guy. A two-day read chronicling last century¿s continuous violence; on big and small scales; from bayonets and billy-clubs to ten-ton, air-dropped terror; with a viciousness that overwhelms all other sentiments; lead by neighbors turned thug and condoned by others with eyes shut and pretending they are keeping their noses clean. Ferguson blames the 20th century killing spree on three things (see intro, page xli) driven by change from multi-ethnic empires into attempts for race-pure nation states. If you think we live in happy la-la land read this and think about how to keep century 21 from taking the same route.
ggoocchh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A comprehensive review of the 20th century. His thesis is interesting and his case for it does not really establish itself to the final pages of the book. However his history of the 20th century is in depth and his transition from one topic to the next is quite engaging. Worth the read, especially for any minor history buffs.
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JohnRomjue More than 1 year ago
"The War of the World" is a penetrating examination of the causes of organized violence in the 20th century--paradoxically both the most advanced and most violent hundred years in modern history. This book is harrowing to read both because of the horrifying ubiquity and not only the terrible detail of the mass killings of the century just past. Not just the Nazi regime, but also its totalitarian siblings, Soviet and Maoist Communism, as well as Japanese racial imperialism along with the disparate ethnic mass murders by Poles and Ukrainians and, more recently, Pol Pot's Marxism-infused killers and many more--all receive due attention in Ferguson's unsparing inquiry. The great strength of this heavily researched work is its focus on both sides of 20th century violence--not only the war and battle carnage we all know about, but the stupefying register of mass democides and genocides that marked the century. One half of all the dead attributed to World War II were civilian deaths, of which the victims of the Jewish Holocaust were but a tragic fraction. And there was something about the 20th century that made ordinary men and not just violent dictators and their lieutenants into mass and merciless killers. What was it? The author makes a special case for three chief causes: ethnic conflict (Central Africa, Bosnia and Kosovo told us it didn't end in 1945), economic volatility (for example, Imperial Japan's desperate resource scarcity), and empires in decline (the decomposition of the European multinational states). Of all these, he emphasizes the factor of the seeming worldwide unleashing of ethnic hatred in the 20th century. But how to explain not just the bloody national and imperial wars marking the epoch,but also the scale and ubiquity of the great civilian killing grounds? In this significant, brilliant inquiry, a chapter is missing--one going beyond Ferguson's causative triad to explain the WHY of the 20th century's easy dehumanization of victims that permitted mass murderers to rationalize their great crimes. What was the factor that drove dehumanization? What happened in the 20th century that such men and regimes, newly unconstrained by traditional morality, could emerge? In our easy secular age, may one suggest that the great materialist mind molders of modernity, Marx, Darwin, and Freud, had something to do with the descent into violence the author so vividly records. The new paradigm they put in place reduced the heretofore image of the equality of all men in the sight of their Creator, to an image of an accidental Darwinian species, morally free, malleable and perfectible, pregnant with varietal "improvement." With God out of the picture, the new ideologues-in-power of the 20th century, appropriating supreme moral authority, would find it easy to define and rationalize the killing of "inferior", "asocial" classes and peoples. As Pascal prophetically said: whoever will cease to believe in God will not believe in nothing, he will believe in anything.
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Soon to read this book hope its good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone says its great well so do i