Niall ferguson books the square and tower
Tim Harford — Article — Review of “The Square and The Tower” by Niall FergusonGoodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson review – a restless tour through power
Niall Ferguson. Allen Lane. Find this book:. In the past three decades, it is easy to identify a certain trend in this direction. Ferguson is by now well-known as a historian, economic analyst and a public commentator on current affairs. His books have focused on the economic aspects of events and phenomena from the past.
It is indisputable that the internet — facilitated by both vast improvements in access and computing power — has had a disruptive impact on not just business but politics and many aspects of our daily lives. Demonstrating precisely what that impact is, however, has been remarkably challenging. Pronouncements on the topic have a tendency to be overblown. The impression that the world is changing faster today than ever before has become conventional wisdom. Yet the magnitude of change that occurred between when America galloped into World War I on horses and dropped the atomic bomb feels more significant than that undergone since the first dot-com domain name was registered. This observation is not meant to diminish the importance of the seismic changes wrought by the digital age, but rather to suggest the relevance of historical context often absent from the conversation.
The tower represents hierarchical control and secular authority, the top-down approach to social structure. The study of how networks compete or co-operate with each other and with hierarchies is a hot topic in the social sciences, and it is easy to see why: think of the US military versus Isis; or Russian intelligence trying to exploit the US media; or Facebook and, well, almost anything. Networks flourished in the years to , he writes; hierarchies reasserted themselves until around , and networks have been making a comeback ever since. The book is a history told with the focus on the way networks and hierarchies shaped events. This approach is engaging but not always helpful. When it does work, however, it works well. German National Socialism is described as a network that then transformed itself into a crushingly powerful hierarchy.