January 25th, 2020

Book 11 - 2018

Book 11: The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson - 536 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Most history is about the people at the top of the towers of power. But what if the real action is in the social networks down below, in the town squares? Niall Ferguson, the international bestselling author of Empire, The Ascent of Money and Civilization, brilliantly recasts past and present as an unending contest between hierarchies and networks.

My brother is a historian, and reading this book recently, he kept telling me how good it was, and that I should read it. So, when he was done, that's what I did. Ferguson basically outlines modern history and the relationship between hierarchies and networks. I learnt a lot from this book, probably because I'm more a student of sociology, international relations and anthropology than I am of history, but I wasn't always sure what Ferguson was trying to argue, if he was trying to argue anything at all. Personally, I also got a little bored in the middle bit, when he was talking through the early 20th century, but this is more a product of my interest areas than of the book itself. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about FANG (Facebook, amazon, netflix, google) and of the more recent political shenanigans in the United States, though I would have liked more on this topic, and maybe a little less on European history (again, my interest areas, and I gather there's more to say about that time period than there is on more modern times, at least for now). Ferguson's style is readable, and for the most part he doesn't get too technical on the network theory stuff. Moreover, I actually found some really great parallels between some of what was covered in this book, primarily in the realm of attempts to police the internet, and on an essay I am currently writing on policing space tourism. Overall, a good read, particularly if you are a student of history, or have an interest in structuralism.

11 / 50 books. 22% done!

3502 / 15000 pages. 23% done!

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