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Ferguson at the Special World Debate in 2010
|Born||Niall Campbell Ferguson
18 April 1964
|Fields||International history, economic and financial history, American and British imperial history|
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
|Known for||Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World|
|Influences||Thomas Hobbes, Norman Stone, A. J. P. Taylor, Kenneth Clark, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, David Landes|
Niall Campbell Ferguson (/ /; born 18 April 1964) is a Scottish historian. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities. He writes and speaks about international history, economic and financial history, and British and American imperialism. He is known for his provocative, contrarian views. Ferguson's books include Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World and Civilization: The West and the Rest, all of which he has presented as Channel 4 television series.
In 2004, he was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. In previous years, he has been a contributing editor for Bloomberg Television and a columnist for Newsweek. Ferguson was an advisor to John McCain's U.S. presidential campaign in 2008, supported Mitt Romney in 2012 and has been a vocal critic of Barack Obama. Ferguson received the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism in 2013.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Opinions and research
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Ferguson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 18 April 1964. His father was a physician and his mother was a physics teacher. He attended The Glasgow Academy. He was brought up as, and remains, an atheist.
Ferguson cites his father as instilling in him a strong sense of self-discipline and of the moral value of work, while his mother encouraged his creative side. His journalist maternal grandfather encouraged him to write. Ferguson cites his reading of War and Peace as persuading him to study history rather than English at university.
University of Oxford
Ferguson received a demyship (scholarship) at Magdalen College, Oxford. While there he wrote the 90-minute student film The Labours of Hercules Sprote and befriended Andrew Sullivan, who shared his interest in right-wing politics and punk music. He had become a Thatcherite by 1982. He graduated with a first-class honours degree in history in 1985.
Ferguson studied in 1987 and 1988 as a Hanseatic Scholar in Hamburg and Berlin. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Magdalen College in 1989, and his dissertation was entitled "Business and Politics in the German Inflation: Hamburg 1914–1924".
In 1989 Ferguson worked as a Research Fellow at Christ's College at the University of Cambridge. From 1990 to 1992 he was an Official Fellow and Lecturer at Cambridge's Peterhouse. He then became a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Jesus College at the University of Oxford, where in 2000 he held the position of Professor of Political and Financial History.
In 2002 Ferguson was the John Herzog Professor in Financial History at Stern School of Business at New York University, and since 2004 he has been the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.
In May 2010, Ferguson was asked by Education Secretary Michael Gove to advise on the development of a new history syllabus, to be entitled "history as a connected narrative", for schools in England and Wales. In June 2011, he joined other academics to set up the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London.
In 2007, Ferguson was appointed as an investment management consultant by GLG Partners, to advise on geopolitical risk as well as current structural issues in economic behaviour relating to investment decisions. GLG is a UK-based hedge fund management firm headed by Noam Gottesman.
Career as commentator
Ferguson wrote for the The Sunday Telegraph, leaving in 2007 to become a contributing editor to the Financial Times. He also writes for Newsweek. In his commentary, Ferguson has described the European Union as a disaster waiting to happen, and has criticised President Vladimir Putin of Russia for authoritarianism.
The Cash Nexus
In his 2001 book, The Cash Nexus, which he wrote following a year as Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, Ferguson argues that the popular saying, "money makes the world go 'round", is wrong; instead he presented a case for human actions in history motivated by far more than just economic concerns.
Colossus and Empire
In his books Colossus and Empire, Ferguson presents a reinterpretation of the history of the British Empire and in conclusion proposes that the modern policies of the United Kingdom and the United States, in taking a more active role in resolving conflict arising from the failure of states, are analogous to the "Anglicization" policies adopted by the British Empire throughout the 19th century. In Colossus, Ferguson explores the United States' hegemony in foreign affairs and its future role in the world. The American writer Michael Lind, responding to Ferguson's advocation of an enlarged American military through conscription, accused Ferguson of engaging in apocalyptic alarmism about the possibility of a world without the United States as the dominant power and of a casual disregard for the value of human life.
War of the World
In War of the World, published in 2006, Ferguson shows how a combination of economic volatility, decaying empires, psychopathic dictators, racially/ethnically motivated and institutionalised violence resulted in the wars and the genocides of what he calls "History's Age of Hatred". The New York Times Book Review named War of the World one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year in 2006, while the International Herald Tribune called it "one of the most intriguing attempts by an historian to explain man's inhumanity to man". Ferguson addresses the paradox that, though the 20th century was "so bloody", it was also "a time of unparalleled [economic] progress". As with his earlier work Empire, War of the World was accompanied by a Channel 4 television series presented by Ferguson.
The Ascent of Money
Published in 2008, The Ascent of Money examines the history of money, credit, and banking. In it Ferguson predicts a financial crisis as a result of the world economy and in particular the United States using too much credit. He cites the China–America dynamic which he refers to as Chimerica where an Asian "savings glut" helped create the subprime mortgage crisis with an influx of easy money. While researching this book, in early 2007, Ferguson attended a session at a conference in Las Vegas at which a hedge fund manager stated there would never be another recession. Ferguson challenged this, and later the two agreed on a $14,000, 7 to 1 bet, that there would be a recession within five years. Ferguson collected $98,000.
Published in 2011, Civilization: The West and the Rest examines why, beginning around 1500, a few small polities on the western end of the Eurasian landmass came to dominate the rest of the world. The books begins with a description of the rise of imperial powers in Europe between 1500 and 1913. Ferguson attributes this divergence to the West's development of six factors largely missing elsewhere in the world – "competition, science, the rule of law, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic". Ferguson compared and contrasted how the West's "killer apps" allowed the West to triumph over the rest. Thus, Ferguson argued the competition between European merchants created more wealth than did the static and ordered society of Qing China. He pointed out that thinkers such as Sir Isaac Newton were tolerated in Stuart England, whereas in the Ottoman Empire Takiyuddin's "blasphemous" observatory was demolished for contradicting the teachings of Islam, with resulting scientific advances in Western civilization which didn't happen in Islamic civilization. He proposed that respect for private property, stronger in British America than in Spanish America, led to the United States and Canada becoming prosperous societies while Latin America was and remains mired in poverty. However, Ferguson also argued that the modern West had lost its edge and is in decline, and that the future belongs to the nations of Asia, especially China, which has adopted the West's policies. A related documentary Civilization: Is the West History? was broadcast as a six-part series on Channel 4 in March and April 2011.
Kissinger: 1923–1968: The Idealist
Kissinger The Idealist, Volume I, published in September 2015, is a biography of Henry Kissinger based on unprecedented access to his private papers. The book starts with a quote from a letter which Kissinger wrote in 1972. The book examines Kissinger's life from being a refugee and fleeing Germany in 1938, to serving in the US army as a "free man" in World War II, to studying at Harvard. The book also explores the history of Kissinger joining the Kennedy administration and later becoming critical of its foreign policy, to supporting Nelson Rockefeller on three failed presidential bids, to finally joining the Nixon administration. The book also includes Kissinger's early evaluation of the Vietnam war and his efforts to negotiate with the North Vietnamese in Paris. The Economist wrote in a review about The Idealist: "Mr Ferguson, a British historian also at Harvard, has in the past sometimes produced work that is rushed and uneven. Not here. Like Mr Kissinger or loathe him, this is a work of engrossing scholarship." In a negative review of The Idealist, the American journalist Michael O'Donnell questioned Ferguson's interpretation of Kissinger's actions leading up to Nixon's election as President.
Opinions and research
World War I
In 1998, Ferguson published The Pity of War: Explaining World War One, which with the help of research assistants he was able to write in just five months. This is an analytic account of what Ferguson considered to be the ten great myths of the Great War. The book generated much controversy, particularly Ferguson's suggestion that it might have proved more beneficial for Europe if Britain had stayed out of the First World War in 1914, thereby allowing Germany to win. Ferguson has argued that the British decision to intervene was what stopped a German victory in 1914–15. Furthermore, Ferguson expressed disagreement with the Sonderweg interpretation of German history championed by some German historians such as Fritz Fischer, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans Mommsen and Wolfgang Mommsen, who argued that the German Empire deliberately started an aggressive war in 1914. Likewise, Ferguson has often attacked the work of the German historian Michael Stürmer, who argued that it was Germany's geographical situation in Central Europe that determined the course of German history.
On the contrary, Ferguson maintained that Germany waged a preventive war in 1914, a war largely forced on the Germans by reckless and irresponsible British diplomacy. In particular, Ferguson accused the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey of maintaining an ambiguous attitude to the question of whether Britain would enter the war or not, and thus confusing Berlin over just what was the British attitude towards the question of intervention in the war. Ferguson accused London of unnecessarily allowing a regional war in Europe to escalate into a world war. Moreover, Ferguson denied that the origins of National Socialism could be traced back to Imperial Germany; instead Ferguson asserted the origins of Nazism could only be traced back to the First World War and its aftermath.
Ferguson attacked a number of ideas that he called "myths" in the book. They are listed here (with his counter-arguments in parentheses):
- That Germany was a highly militarist country before 1914 (Ferguson claims Germany was Europe's most anti-militarist country).
- That naval challenges mounted by Germany drove Britain into informal alliances with France and Russia before 1914 (Ferguson claims the British chose alliances with France and Russia as a form of appeasement due to the strength of those nations, and an Anglo-German alliance failed to materialize due to German weakness).
- That British foreign policy was driven by legitimate fears of Germany (Ferguson claims Germany posed no threat to Britain before 1914, and that all British fears of Germany were due to irrational anti-German prejudices).
- That the pre-1914 arms race was consuming ever larger portions of national budgets at an unsustainable rate (Ferguson claims that the only limitations on more military spending before 1914 were political, not economic).
- That World War I was, as Fritz Fischer claimed, a war of aggression on the part of Germany that necessitated British involvement to stop Germany from conquering Europe (Ferguson claims that if Germany had been victorious, something like the European Union would have been created in 1914, and that it would have been for the best if Britain had chosen to opt out of war in 1914).
- That most people were happy with the outbreak of war in 1914 (Ferguson claims that most Europeans were saddened by the coming of war).
- That propaganda was successful in making men wish to fight (Ferguson argues the opposite).
- That the Allies made the best use of their economic resources (Ferguson argues that the Allies "squandered" their economic resources).
- That the British and the French had the better armies (Ferguson claims the German Army was superior).
- That the Allies were more efficient at killing Germans (Ferguson argues that the Germans were more efficient at killing the Allies).
- That most soldiers hated fighting in the war (Ferguson argues most soldiers fought more or less willingly).
- That the British treated German prisoners of war well (Ferguson argues the British routinely killed German POWs).
- That Germany was faced with reparations after 1921 that could not be paid except at ruinous economic cost (Ferguson argues that Germany could easily have paid reparations had there been the political will).
Another controversial aspect of The Pity of War is Ferguson's use of counterfactual history also known as "speculative" or "hypothetical" history. In the book, Ferguson presents a hypothetical version of Europe being, under Imperial German domination, a peaceful, prosperous, democratic continent, without ideologies like communism or fascism. In Ferguson's view, had Germany won World War I, then the lives of millions would have been saved, something like the European Union would have been founded in 1914, and Britain would have remained an empire as well as the world's dominant financial power.
The French historians Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker were dubious about much of Ferguson's methodology and conclusions in The Pity of War, but praised him for the chapter dealing with the executions of POWs, arguing that Ferguson had exposed a dark side of the war that until then had been ignored. The American writer Michael Lind wrote about The Pity of War:
Like the historian John Charmley, who expressed the same wish in the case of World War II, Ferguson belongs to the fringe element of British conservatism that regrets the absence of a German-British deal in the first half of the 20th century that would have marginalized the United States and might have allowed the British Empire to survive to this day. According to Ferguson, Britain should have stayed out of World War I and allowed Imperial Germany to smash France and Russia and create a continental empire from the Atlantic to the Middle East. The joke is on Ferguson's American conservative admirers, inasmuch as he laments the defeat of the Kaiser's Germany because it accelerated the replacement of the British Empire by the United States of America and the eclipse of the City of London by Wall Street.
The American historian Gerhard Weinberg in a review of The Pity of War strongly criticized Ferguson for advancing the thesis that it was idiotic for Britain to have fought a Germany that posed no danger. Weinberg accused Ferguson of completely ignoring the chief foreign policy aim of Wilhelm II from 1897 onwards, namely Weltpolitik (World Politics") and argued it was absurd for Ferguson to claim that allowing Germany to defeat France and Russia would have posed no danger to Britain. Weinberg wrote that Ferguson was wrong to claim that Germany's interests were limited only to Europe, and maintained that if the Reich did defeat France in 1914, then Germany would had taken over the French colonies in Asia and Africa which would have definitely affected the balance of power all over the world, not just in Europe. Finally, Weinberg attacked Ferguson for claiming that the Tirpitz Plan was not a danger to Britain and that Britain had no reason to fear Germany's naval ambitions, sarcastically asking if that was really the case, then why did the British redeploy so much of their fleet from around the world to the North Sea and spend so much money building warships in the Anglo-German naval arms race? Weinberg accused Ferguson of distorting both German and British history and ignoring any evidence that did not fit with his thesis that Britain should never have fought Germany, stating that The Pity of War was interesting as a historical provocation, but was not persuasive as history.
Ferguson wrote two volumes about the prominent Rothschild family: The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 1798–1848 and The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World's Banker: 1849–1999. These books were the result of original archival research. The books won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and were also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award.
The books were acclaimed by some historians, although they did receive some criticism. John Lewis Gaddis, a Cold War–era historian, praised Ferguson's "unrivaled range, productivity and visibility", while criticising the book as unpersuasive and containing contradictory claims. Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm had praised Ferguson as an excellent historian, but criticised him as a "nostalgist for empire".
Ferguson sometimes champions counterfactual history, also known as "speculative" or "hypothetical" history, and edited a collection of essays, titled Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (1997), exploring the subject. Ferguson likes to imagine alternative outcomes as a way of stressing the contingent aspects of history. For Ferguson, great forces don't make history; individuals do, and nothing is predetermined. Thus, for Ferguson, there are no paths in history that will determine how things will work out. The world is neither progressing nor regressing; only the actions of individuals determine whether we will live in a better or worse world. His championing of the method has been controversial within the field. In a 2011 review of Ferguson's book Civilization: The West and the Rest, Noel Malcolm (Senior Research Fellow in History at All Souls College at Oxford University) stated that: "Students may find this an intriguing introduction to a wide range of human history; but they will get an odd idea of how historical argument is to be conducted, if they learn it from this book."
In 2003, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger provided Ferguson with access to his White House diaries, letters, and archives for what Ferguson calls a "warts-and-all biography" of Kissinger. In 2015, he published the first volume in a two-part biography titled Kissinger: 1923–1968: The Idealist from Penguin Press.
The thesis of this first volume was that Kissinger was very much influenced in his academic and political development by the philosopher Immanuel Kant, and especially by an interpretation of Kant that he learned from a mentor at Harvard University, William Yandell Elliott.
The British Empire
Ferguson is critical of what he calls the "self-flagellation" that he says characterises modern European thought.
"The moral simplification urge is an extraordinarily powerful one, especially in this country, where imperial guilt can lead to self-flagellation," he told a reporter. "And it leads to very simplistic judgments. The rulers of western Africa prior to the European empires were not running some kind of scout camp. They were engaged in the slave trade. They showed zero sign of developing the country's economic resources. Did Senegal ultimately benefit from French rule? Yes, it's clear. And the counterfactual idea that somehow the indigenous rulers would have been more successful in economic development doesn't have any credibility at all."
In the related TV documentary of 2003, Empire Ferguson argued that the mantle of the British Empire as the world's foremost power was passed on to the United States during the Second World War, which led to Ferguson favorably reciting Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden"—written in 1898 to praise the United States for becoming an imperial power by conquering the Philippines from Spain—as just as relevant today as it was in 1898. Ferguson argues that the United States should celebrate being an imperial power like Britain was, conquering other people's countries for what Ferguson insists is their own good, and complains that far too often Americans refuse to accept that nation has an imperialist role to play in the modern world.
Richard Drayton, Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at the University of London, has stated that it is correct to associate "Ferguson with an attempt to 'rehabilitate empire' in the service of contemporary great power interests".
Bernard Porter attacked Empire in The London Review of Books as a "panegyric to British colonialism". Ferguson in response to this drew Porter's attention to the conclusion of the book, where he writes: "No one would claim that the record of the British Empire was unblemished. On the contrary, I have tried to show how often it failed to live up to its own ideal of individual liberty, particularly in the early era of enslavement, transportation and the 'ethnic cleansing' of indigenous peoples." Ferguson argues however that the British Empire was preferable to the alternatives:
The 19th-century empire undeniably pioneered free trade, free capital movements and, with the abolition of slavery, free labour. It invested immense sums in developing a global network of modern communications. It spread and enforced the rule of law over vast areas. Though it fought many small wars, the empire maintained a global peace unmatched before or since. In the 20th century too the empire more than justified its own existence. For the alternatives to British rule represented by the German and Japanese empires were clearly – and they admitted it themselves – far worse. And without its empire, it is inconceivable that Britain could have withstood them.
In November 2011 Pankaj Mishra reviewed Civilisation: The West and the Rest unfavourably in the London Review of Books. Ferguson demanded an apology and threatened to sue Mishra on charges of libel due to allegations of racism.
Islam and "Eurabia"
Matthew Carr wrote in Race & Class that
"Niall Ferguson, the conservative English [sic] historian and enthusiastic advocate of a new American empire, has also embraced the Eurabian idea in a widely reproduced article entitled 'Eurabia?',"[not in citation given]
in which he laments the 'de-Christianization of Europe' and the secularism of the continent that leaves it 'weak in the face of fanaticism'." Carr adds that
"Ferguson sees the recent establishment of a department of Islamic studies in his Oxford college as another symptom of 'the creeping Islamicization of a decadent Christendom",
Ferguson struck a similarly Spenglerian note, conjuring the term 'impire' to depict a process in which a 'political entity, instead of expanding outwards towards its periphery, exporting power, implodes – when the energies come from outside into that entity'. In Ferguson's opinion, this process was already under way in a decadent 'post-Christian' Europe that was drifting inexorably towards the dark denouement of a vanquished civilisation and the fatal embrace of Islam.
In 2015, Ferguson deplored the Paris attacks committed by Islamic State terrorists, but stated he was not going to "stand" with the French as he argued that France was a lost cause, a declining state faced with an unstoppable Islamic wave that would sweep away everything that tried to oppose it. Ferguson compared the modern European Union to the Western Roman Empire, describing modern Europe as not that different from the world depicted by Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ferguson wrote that:
Uncannily similar processes are destroying the European Union today...Let us be clear about what is happening. Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.
Ferguson wrote the mass influx of refugees into Europe from Syria was a modern version of the Völkerwanderung when the Huns burst out of Asia and invaded Europe, causing millions of the Germanic peoples to flee into the presumed safety of the Roman Empire, smashing their way in as the Romans attempted unsuccessfully to stop the Germans from entering the empire. Ferguson writes that Gibbon was wrong to claim the Roman Empire collapsed slowly and argues that the view among a growing number of modern scholars is that the collapse of the Roman empire was swift and violent; unforeseeable by Romans of the day, just as the collapse of modern European civilization would likewise be for modern Europeans.
Ferguson supported the 2003 Iraq War, and he is on record as not necessarily opposed to future western incursions around the world.
It's all very well for us to sit here in the West with our high incomes and cushy lives, and say it's immoral to violate the sovereignty of another state. But if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don't rule it out
On the rise of Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump, Ferguson was quoted in early 2016: "If you bother to read some of the serious analysis of Trump's support, you realize that it's a very fragile thing and highly unlikely to deliver what he needs in the crucial first phase of the primaries. ... By the time we get to March–April, it's all over. I think there's going to be a wonderful catharsis, I’m really looking forward to it: Trump's humiliation. Bring it on."  Trump eventually won the nomination.
Three weeks before the 2016 United States presidential election, Ferguson said in an interview that it "was over for Donald Trump"; that "Trump had flamed out in all three Presidential debates"; that, "I don't think there can be any last minute surprise to rescue him [Trump]"; that there was no hope of Donald Trump winning Independent voters and that Trump was, "gone as a candidate" adding that, "it seems to me clear that she [Hillary Clinton] is going to be the first female President of the United States. The only question is how bad does his [Trump's] flaming out affect candidates for the Senate, candidates for the House, further down on the ballot."  Trump was elected president and the Republican Party, while losing seats, retained control of both houses of Congress.
In its edition of 15 August 2005, The New Republic published "The New New Deal", an essay by Ferguson and Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University. The two scholars called for the following changes to the American government's fiscal and income security policies:
- Replacing the personal income tax, corporate income tax, Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA), estate tax, and gift tax with a 33% Federal Retail Sales Tax (FRST), plus a monthly rebate, amounting to the amount of FRST that a household with similar demographics would pay if its income were at the poverty line. See also: FairTax
- Replacing the old age benefits paid under Social Security with a Personal Security System, consisting of private retirement accounts for all citizens, plus a government benefit payable to those whose savings were insufficient to afford a minimum retirement income
- Replacing Medicare and Medicaid with a Medical Security System that would provide health insurance vouchers to all citizens, the value of which would be determined by one's health
- Cutting federal discretionary spending by 20%
In November 2012, Ferguson stated in a video with CNN that the U.S. has enough energy resources to move towards energy independence and could possibly enter a new economic golden age due to the related socio-economic growth—coming out of the post-world economic recession doldrums.
Exchanges with Paul Krugman
In May 2009, Ferguson became involved in a high-profile exchange of views with economist Paul Krugman arising out of a panel discussion hosted by PEN/New York Review on 30 April 2009, regarding the U.S. economy. Ferguson contended that the Obama administration's policies are simultaneously Keynesian and monetarist, in an "incoherent" mix, and specifically claimed that the government's issuance of a multitude of new bonds would cause an increase in interest rates.
Krugman argued that Ferguson's view is "resurrecting 75-year old fallacies" and full of "basic errors". He also stated that Ferguson is a "poseur" who "hasn't bothered to understand the basics, relying on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It's all style, no comprehension of substance."
In 2012, Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said that subsequent events had shown Ferguson to be wrong: "As we all know, since then both the US and UK have had deficits running at historically extremely high levels, and long-term interest rates at historic lows: as Krugman has repeatedly pointed out, the (IS-LM) textbook has been spot on."
Later in 2012, after Ferguson wrote a cover story for Newsweek arguing that Mitt Romney should be elected in the upcoming US presidential election, Krugman wrote that there were multiple errors and misrepresentations in the story, concluding "We're not talking about ideology or even economic analysis here – just a plain misrepresentation of the facts, with an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers. The Times would require an abject correction if something like that slipped through. Will Newsweek?" Ferguson denied that he had misrepresented the facts in an online rebuttal. Matthew O'Brien countered that Ferguson was still distorting the meaning of the Congressional Budget Office report being discussed, and that the entire piece could be read as an effort to deceive.
In 2013, Ferguson, naming Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers, attacked "Krugman and his acolytes," in his three-part essay on why he dislikes Paul Krugman, whose title is originally made by Noah Smith.
Remarks on Keynes' sexual orientation
At a May 2013 investment conference in Carlsbad, California, Ferguson was asked about his views on economist John Maynard Keynes's quotation that "in the long run we are all dead." Ferguson stated that Keynes was indifferent to the future because he was gay and did not have children. The remarks were widely criticised for being offensive, factually inaccurate, and a distortion of Keynes' ideas.
Ferguson posted an apology for these statements shortly after reports of his words were widely disseminated, saying his comments were "as stupid as they were insensitive". In the apology, Ferguson stated: "My disagreements with Keynes's economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life."
In February 2010, news media reported that Ferguson had separated from Douglas and started dating former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ferguson and Douglas divorced in 2011. Ferguson married Hirsi Ali in September 2011 and Hirsi Ali gave birth to their son Thomas in December 2011. In an interview in April 2011, Ferguson complained about the media coverage of his relationship with Ali, stating: "No, I never read their shitty coverage of people's private lives. I don't care about the sex lives of celebrities, so I was a little unprepared for having my private life all over the country. So yeah, I was naive, yeah. Because you have to stoop to conquer," – but will never write for it [The Daily Mail] again. "That's because I'm a vendetta person. Yes, absolutely. Implacable."
Ferguson dedicated his book Civilization to "Ayaan". In an interview with The Guardian, Ferguson spoke about his love for Ali, who, he writes in the preface, "understands better than anyone I know what Western civilisation really means – and what it still has to offer the world".
Ferguson's self confessed workaholism has placed strains on his personal relations in the past. Ferguson has commented that:
...from 2002, the combination of making TV programmes and teaching at Harvard took me away from my children too much. You don't get those years back. You have to ask yourself: "Was it a smart decision to do those things?" I think the success I have enjoyed since then has been bought at a significant price. In hindsight, there would have been a bunch of things that I would have said no to.
In an interview, Ferguson described his relationship with the left: "No, they love being provoked by me! Honestly, it makes them feel so much better about their lives to think that I'm a reactionary; it's a substitute for thought. 'Imperialist scumbag' and all that. Oh dear, we're back in a 1980s student union debate."
Ferguson was the inspiration for Alan Bennett's play The History Boys (2004), particularly the character of Irwin, a history teacher who urges his pupils to find a counterintuitive angle, and goes on to become a television historian. Bennett's character "Irwin" gives the impression that "an entire career can be built on the trick of contrariness."
- Ferguson, Niall (2015). Kissinger: 1923–1968: The Idealist. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-653-5.
- Ferguson, Niall (2013). The Great Degeneration. Penguin Books.
- Ferguson, Niall (2011). Civilization: The West and the Rest. The Penguin Press HC. ISBN 978-1-59420-305-3.
- Ferguson, Niall (2010). High Financier: The Lives and Times of Siegmund Warburg. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-1-59420-246-9.
- Ferguson, Niall (2008). The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-1-84614-106-5.
- Ferguson, Niall (2006). The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9708-7. American ed. has the title: The war of the World: Twentieth-century Conflict and the Descent of the West OCLC 70839824 (also a Channel 4 series)
- Ferguson, Niall (2005). 1914. Pocket Penguins 70s S. London, England: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-14-102220-5.
- Ferguson, Niall (2004). Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-7139-9770-2.
- Ferguson, Niall (2003). Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9615-3.
- Ferguson, Niall (2001). The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700–2000. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9465-7. OCLC 46459770.
- Ferguson, Niall (1999) . Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02322-3.
- Ferguson, Niall (1999) . The Pity of War. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-05711-X. OCLC 41124439.
- Ferguson, Niall (1999). The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker, 1849–1999. New York, N.Y.: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-88794-3.
- Ferguson, Niall (1995). Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation, 1897–1927. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47016-1.
- "Let Germany Keep Its Nerve", The Spectator, 22 April 1995, pages 21–23
- "Europa nervosa", in Nader Mousavizadeh (ed.), The Black Book of Bosnia (New Republic/Basic Books, 1996), pp. 127–32
- "The German inter-war economy: Political choice versus economic determinism" in Mary Fulbrook (ed.), German History since 1800 (Arnold, 1997), pp. 258–278
- "The balance of payments question: Versailles and after" in Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 401–440
- "‘The Caucasian Royal Family’: The Rothschilds in national contexts" in R. Liedtke (ed.), ‘Two Nations’: The Historical Experience of British and German Jews in Comparison (J.C.B. Mohr, 1999)
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- "Metternich and the Rothschilds: A reappraisal" in Andrea Hamel and Edward Timms (eds.), Progress and Emancipation in the Age of Metternich: Jews and Modernisation in Austria and Germany, 1815–1848 (Edwin Mellen Press, 1999), pp. 295–325
- "The European economy, 1815–1914" in T.C.W. Blanning (ed.), The Short Oxford History of Europe: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 78–125
- "How (not) to pay for the war: Traditional finance and total war" in Roger Chickering and Stig Förster (eds.), Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 409–34
- "Introduction" in Frederic Manning, Middle Parts of Fortune (Penguin, 2000), pp. vii–xviii
- "Clashing civilizations or mad mullahs: The United States between informal and formal empire" in Strobe Talbott (ed.), The Age of Terror (Basic Books, 2001), pp. 113–41
- "Public debt as a post-war problem: The German experience after 1918 in comparative perspective" in Mark Roseman (ed.), Three Post-War Eras in Comparison: Western Europe 1918-1945-1989 (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002), pp. 99–119
- "Das Haus Sachsen-Coburg und die europäische Politik des 19. Jahrhunderts", in Rainer von Hessen (ed.), Victoria Kaiserin Friedrich (1840–1901): Mission und Schicksal einer englischen Prinzessin in Deutschland (Campus Verlag, 2002), pp. 27–39
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- "Introduction to Tzvetan Todorov" in Nicholas Owen (ed.), Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Oxford Amnesty Lectures (Amnesty International, 2003)
- "The City of London and British imperialism: New light on an old question", in Youssef Cassis and Eric Bussière (eds.), London and Paris as International Financial Centres in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 57–77
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- Empire (2003)
- American Colossus (2004)
- The War of the World (2006)
- The Ascent of Money (2008)
- Civilization: Is the West History? (2011)
- China: Triumph and Turmoil (2012)
- The Pity of War (2014)
BBC Reith Lectures
In May 2012 the BBC announced Niall Ferguson was to present its annual Reith Lectures – a prestigious series of radio lectures which were first broadcast in 1948. These four lectures, titled The Rule of Law and its Enemies, examine the role man-made institutions have played in the economic and political spheres.
In the first lecture, held at the London School of Economics, titled The Human Hive, Ferguson argues for greater openness from governments, saying they should publish accounts which clearly state all assets and liabilities. Governments, he said, should also follow the lead of business and adopt the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and, above all, generational accounts should be prepared on a regular basis to make absolutely clear the inter-generational implications of current fiscal policy. In the lecture, Ferguson says young voters should be more supportive of government austerity measures if they do not wish to pay further down the line for the profligacy of the baby boomer generation.
In the second lecture, The Darwinian Economy, Ferguson reflects on the causes of the global financial crisis, and erroneous conclusions that many people have drawn from it about the role of regulation, such as whether it is in fact "the disease of which it purports to be the cure".
The Landscape of Law was the third lecture, delivered at Gresham College. It examines the rule of law in comparative terms, asking how far the common law's claims to superiority over other systems are credible, and whether we are living through a time of 'creeping legal degeneration' in the English-speaking world.
The fourth and final lecture, Civil and Uncivil Societies, focuses on institutions (outside the political, economic and legal realms) designed to preserve and transmit particular knowledge and values. It asks whether the modern state is quietly killing civil society in the Western world, and what non-Western societies can do to build a vibrant civil society.
- Biography Niall Ferguson
- "Harvard University History Department — Faculty: Niall Ferguson". History.fas.harvard.edu. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Ferguson, Niall (30 November 2012). "Turning Points". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- "Conservative Historian Niall Ferguson Blasts Trump's Foreign Policy". Fortune, by Chris Matthews. 3 May 2016
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- "Newsweek's anti-Obama cover story: Has the magazine lost all credibility?" The Week, 21 August 2012.
- Smith, David (18 June 2006). "Niall Ferguson: The empire rebuilder". The Observer. Guardian News and Media.
- Tassel, Janet (2007). "The Global Empire of Niall Ferguson". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- Ferguson, Niall (4 January 2008). "Niall Ferguson on Belief". Big Think. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
Recorded on: October 31, 2007
- Duncan, Alistair (19 March 2011). "Niall Ferguson: My family values". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media.
- Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow Hoover Institution, 30 November 2011.
- Robert Boynton "Thinking the Unthinkable: A profile of Niall Ferguson", The New Yorker, 12 April 1999.
- Dissertation Abstracts International: The Humanities and Social sciences. 53. University Microfilms. 1993. p. 3318.
- "LSE IDEAS appoints Professor Niall Ferguson to chair in international history". London School of Economics. 25 March 2009. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs, for 2010–2011
- Skidelsky, William (20 February 2011). "Niall Ferguson: 'Westerners don't understand how vulnerable freedom is'". The Observer. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- Higgins, Charlotte (31 May 2010). "Empire strikes back: rightwing historian to get curriculum role". guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Cook, Chris (5 June 2011). "Star professors set up humanities college". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 June 2012.(registration required)
- Laurent, Lionel (30 September 2007). "Meet The Hedge Fund Historian". Forbes.com. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
- "GLG Company Description". Retrieved 20 December 2008.[dead link]
- Tryhorn, Chris (23 October 2007). "Niall Ferguson joins FT". MediaGuardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Niall Ferguson: Biography". Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- Des Brown (7 April 2016). "Niall Ferguson on Brexit, Russia, and the Age of Unpredictability". The Moscow Times.
- "The Devil and Mr. Putin". New York Sun Editorial 5 January 2005
- Porter, Andrew (April 2003). "Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World". Reviews in History. Institute of Historical Research, University of London. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- Wilson, Jon (8 February 2003). "False and dangerous: Revisionist TV history of Britain's empire is an attempt to justify the new imperial order". guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- Waslekar, Sundeep (July 2006). "A Review of: Colossus by Prof Niall Ferguson". StrategicForesight.com. Strategic Foresight Group. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- Roberts, Adam (14 May 2004). "Colossus by Niall Ferguson: An empire in deep denial". The Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- Lind, Michael (24 May 2011). "Niall Ferguson and the Brain Dead American Right". Salon. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "100 Notable Books of the Year". The New York Times. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- "Niall Ferguson finds the future in the past". Australian Financial Review, 27 May 2016 (subscription required)
- McRae, Hamish (31 October 2008). "The Ascent of Money, By Niall Ferguson". The Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
- Sasha Talcott, "Spotlight: Niall Ferguson", Belfer Center.
- "A success that looks like failure". The Economist. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Ideas man America's greatest modern diplomat was also one of its great thinkers". The Economist. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- O'Donnell, Michael (September–October 2015). "Restoring Henry". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pp. 460–461.
- Ferguson, The Pity of War (1998, 1999), pp. 154–156.
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 27–30
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 52–55
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 68–76
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 87–101 & 118–125
- "No Man's Land". New York Times, 9 May 1999. V. R. BERGHAHN
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 239–247
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 310–317
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 336–338
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 357–366
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 380–388
- Ferguson, Niall The Pity of War, Basic Books: New York, 1998, 1999 pages 412–431
- Ferguson, The Pity of War (1998, 1999), pp. 168–173 & 460–461.
- Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane and Becker, Annette 14-18: Understanding the Great War, New York: Hill and Wang, 2014 page 84.
- Weinberg, Gerhard Review of The Pity of War pages 281-282 from Central European History Volume 33, Issue 02, June 2000 page 281.
- Weinberg, Gerhard Review of The Pity of War pages 281-282 from Central European History Volume 33, Issue 02, June 2000 page 282.
- Benjamin Wallace-Wells "Right Man's Burden", Washington Monthly, June 2004.
- "The Last Empire, for Now". New York Times. 25 July 2004. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- Eric Hobsbawm, Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism (Abacus, 2008).
- Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, 12 June 2006.
- Kreisler, Harry (3 November 2003). "Conversation with Niall Ferguson: Being a Historian". Conversations with History. Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
- Malcolm, Noel (13 March 2011). "Civilisation: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson: review". The Daily Telegraph.
The patient testing of evidence must give way to startling statistics, gripping anecdotes and snappy phrase-making. Niall Ferguson is never unintelligent and certainly never dull. Students may find this an intriguing introduction to a wide range of human history; but they will get an odd idea of how historical argument is to be conducted, if they learn it from this book
- Hagan, Joe (27 November 2006). "The Once and Future Kissinger". New York Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- Wilson, Jon "Niall Ferguson's Imperial Passion" pages 175-183 from History Workshop Journal, Issue 56, Autumn 2003 pages 175-176.
- Wilson, Jon "Niall Ferguson's Imperial Passion" pages 175-183 from History Workshop Journal, Issue 56, Autumn 2003 page 176.
- "Letters: The British empire and deaths in Kenya". The Guardian. 16 June 2010.
- Tell me where I’m wrong London Review of Books, 19 May 2005
- Mishra, Pankaj (3 November 2011). "Watch this man (review of 'Civilisation' by Niall Ferguson)". London Review of Books. 33 (21): 10–12. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Beaumont, Peter (26 November 2011). "Niall Ferguson threatens to sue over accusation of racism". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Niall Ferguson The way we live now: 4-4-04; Eurabia? New York Times, 4 April 2004
- Niall Ferguson The end of Europe? American Enterprise Institute Bradley Lecture, 1 March 2004 Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Carr, M. (2006). "You are now entering Eurabia". Race & Class. 48: 1–0. doi:10.1177/0306396806066636.
- Ferguson, Niall (16 November 2015). "Paris and the fall of Rome". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Top News Today | New age of U.S. prosperity? | Home | cnn.com". Home.topnewstoday.org. 23 November 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Ferguson, Niall (27 June 2016). "Brexit: victory for older voters but disaster for economy". The Australian.
- Weisenthal, Joe (6 May 2013). "Niall Ferguson's Horrible Track Record On Economics". Business Insider. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Krugman, Paul (2 May 2009). "Liquidity preference, loanable funds, and Niall Ferguson (wonkish)". New York Times.
- Krugman, Paul (22 May 2009). "Gratuitous ignorance". New York Times.
- Krugman, Paul (17 August 2009). "Black cats". New York Times.
- Portes, Jonathan (25 June 2012). "Macroeconomics: what is it good for? [a response to Diane Coyle]". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Kavoussi, Bonnie (20 August 2012). "Paul Krugman Bashes Niall Ferguson's Newsweek Cover Story As 'Unethical'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Ferguson, Niall. "Ferguson's Newsweek Cover Rebuttal: Paul Krugman Is Wrong". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- O'Brien, Matthew. "The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Niall Ferguson, Krugtron the Invincible, Part 1, Krugtron the Invincible, Part 2, Krugtron the Invincible, Part 3
- Noah Smith, KrugTron the Invincible
- Paul Harris (4 May 2013): Niall Ferguson apologises for remarks about 'gay and childless' Keynes The Guardian, retrieved 7 May 2013
- Blodget, Henry. "Harvard's Niall Ferguson Blamed Keynes' Economic Philosophy On His Being Childless And Gay".
- Kostigen, Tom. "Harvard Professor Trashes Keynes For Homosexuality".
- Harris, Paul (4 May 2012). "Niall Ferguson apologises for remarks about 'gay and childless' Keynes". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Niall Ferguson (5 May 2013): An Unqualified Apology Homesite, retrieved 7 May 2013
- Lynn, Matthew (23 August 2009). "Professor Paul Krugman at war with Niall Ferguson over inflation". Times Online. Retrieved 25 October 2009.(subscription required)
- Gray, Sadie (14 February 2010). "PROFILE: Niall Ferguson". Times Online.(subscription required)
- Hale, Beth (8 February 2010). "The historian, his wife and a mistress living under a fatwa". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers.
- "Niall Ferguson and Ayaan Hirsi Ali". The Independent. 25 February 2010.
- Eden, Richard (18 December 2011). "Henry Kissinger watches historian Niall Ferguson marry Ayaan Hirsi Ali under a fatwa". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Numann, Jessica (30 December 2011). "Ayaan Hirsi Ali (42) bevalt van een zoon". Elsevier. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- "Ayaan Hirsi Ali gives birth to baby boy". DutchNews.nl. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Ayaan Hirsi Ali is bevallen van zoon Thomas". Volkskrant. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "'The left love being provoked by me ... they think I'm a reactionary imperialist scumbag'". The Guardian. 11 April 2011.
- "The War of the World". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 27 April 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- "Brad DeLong : Keynesian Economics: The Gay Science?". Delong.typepad.com. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Historian Niall Ferguson named 2012 BBC Reith Lecturer". BBC News. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Niall, Prof (17 June 2012). "Viewpoint: Why the young should welcome austerity". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures
- BBC – Podcasts and Downloads – Reith Lectures
- Snowman, Daniel (October 2004). "Niall Ferguson". History Today. 54 (10): 37–39. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- Ferguson, Niall (1999). The Pity of War. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-14-027523-0.
- "The Ascent of Money", Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
- "Audio: Niall Ferguson in conversation", The Forum, BBC World Service
- Hans Koning, "Still Not Over Over There?", The Nation, August 1999 – Review of The Pity of War
- Martin Rubin, "A Banker to the Rescue", WSJ.com, 26 June 2010
- Liaquat Ahamed, "Yesterday's Banker", NYTimes.com, 30 July 2010
- "The Sun Sets in the West", Oxonian Review, 4 April 2011 – Review of Civilization
- "An Interview with Niall Ferguson", Oxonian Review, 9 April 2011
- "Niall Ferguson and the brain-dead American right", 24 May 2011
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