Talk:Niall Ferguson

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(Clean up)[edit]

This has, I think, got long enough such that it could use to be cleaned up a bit. I'm going to give it a stab in the coming days but I wanted to drop a warning here first, and to solicit suggestions. --Fluxdrip — Preceding undated comment added 08:51, 23 March 2006 ... in 2 edits, 14 sec apart, in order to pipe the (entirely authentic) sig

(TV accompaniment to War of the World)[edit]

there needs to be some mention of his current channel 4 tv series which accompanies his new book, war of the world — Preceding unsigned comment added by Farrtj (talkcontribs) 12:07, 20 June 2006

Ferguson's defence of the British Empire[edit]

At 08:24, 31 July 2009, the (long-overdue) section heading immediately above was retrofitted (by Lawrencekhoo) above the following 'graph of January 2007. That section until now appeared to have a scope including
  1. the earlier, and until now untitled, contribs (see 2 preceding sections) which had been left below the unrelated January contrib, and
  2. the until now untitled 2010 and 2012 contribs which i'm now retrofitting with new talk-section headings (Hari) and (As scholar).
--Jerzyt 10:29, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Anonymous users keep removing the entire section referring to critique of Ferguson's defence of the British Empire. The section appears properly cited and is biographically relevant as this critique has been widely reported and debated in association with Ferguson, so if an editor feels this section should not be in the article it should be debated on the talk page. Ben Whiteside 18:58, 14 January 2007 (UTC)


As I look at the "Colonialism" section today, it only quotes Johann Hari's personal blog as criticism. This is a violation of WP:BLPSPS. Even though Johann Hari is a professional writer, his personal blog is not "subject to the newspaper's full editorial control" as WP:BLPSPS requires. --JHP (talk) 00:16, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Johann Hari has been thoroughly discredited as a journalist. His views are probably not worth including Kentish 21:39 17 July 2012 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

(As scholar)[edit]

As I encountered this article on May 30, 2010, the "As scholar" subsection of the "Criticisms" section contained fake quotes used to disparage Ferguson. I have removed them. --JHP (talk) 00:47, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


Criticism is not inherently negative and so both denigration and praise ought to be included. Ferguson is a public figure and so ought to be able to take the brickbats as well as accept the praise and that contrast ought to be included in his biographical entry in any encyclopaedia; he does after all court controversy and seek to polarise debate with his works. If editors do not consider that Ferguson deliberately courts controversy can I suggest they consider his introduction to Virtual History (counter-factualism being historically controversial to start with) where he explicitly equates Fascism, Communism, and Feminism (see p53 & p56). The equation of Fascism and Communism is historically controversial and the equating of both with Feminism is bordering on outrageous.

Historiography includes consideration of politics and social power and so social and/or political criticism of Ferguson are perfectly valid.

As to whether Ferguson counts is a 'complex thinker' well that itself is a matter for debate and it would seem that debate is the heart of wikipedia.Rykalski (talk) 12:23, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Jackass! Now try posting again without taking his comment in Virtual History out of context. My God, one should have to take an IQ test before being allowed to post. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

There is no contextomy in my above statement but I note a lack of Civility on your - anonymous - part. The discussion referred to in Virtual History is all of a piece and the intention to taint both communism and feminism with the same odour of fascism is quite obvious. On which basis I suggest that it is not in your best interest to demand an IQ qualification for wikipedia editing. Also please note I was not suggesting the above for inclusion in this biography page but using it as an example of why critical statements ought to be considered for inclusion within it.Rykalski (talk) 18:25, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
p.s. Harvard, eh? How delightful. Isn't Ferguson there now? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rykalski (talkcontribs) 18:43, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

As there were no objections regarding the above, I have added the link to the interview with Niall Ferguson.Taleinfo 19:18, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

This article is terrible.[edit]

I don't think I've ever seen a more biased article on Wikipedia than this. Personally, I don't have much respect for Niall Ferguson and I think he indulges in pseudo-history far too often, but I at least have the common sense not to put my biased views down in a Wikipedia article, which is supposed to be academic. Besides the tiny review of a small portion of his work in the beginning of the article, the entire thing is devoted to blatantly bashing his work. By far the sorriest article I've come across on Wikipedia, and I don't even like the guy.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Torbad (talkcontribs) 21:46, 8 March 2007

I agree fully, there is far too much of the article dedicated to criticisms. The article needs to be rewritten. Jacknife737 08:07, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I have never seen an article this poor.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:51, 21 March 2007

This article really is example of all that is bad on wikipedia. Just read it. It's one huge personal attack on Niall Ferguson and about as biased as an article can be. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:41, 23 March 2007 no wonder wikipedia has such a poor reputation.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 23 March 2007

-This is not that bad an attempt to grapple with the hydra of Ferguson's works. How large would the article have to be to treat each of Ferguson's positions in a fully analytical fashion. This is supposed to be an encyclopaedia not a collection of doctoral theses. Rykalski (talk) 12:30, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Why is noting differences "unnecessary"?[edit]

During May 2007 a new paragraph was added to the section on the Niall Ferguson book "War of the World" listing some aspects of the London edition of the book (the American edition turns out to be different in some respects and I was going to make some changes to reflect those differences) with page numbers and references, including government websites and historical diary and letter references, providing an alternative perspective than that provided in the book.

The aspects identified are not normally subject to much debate or much heated opinion (I am not are of debate favouring "Ottowa" over "Ottowa"), so it seemed quite useful to identify them to the regular reader, so they can make their own assessment of the book, being forwarned about some aspects. Yet the section was removed with the comment "unnecessary information". Since the deleted paragraph sought to help readers assess the "verifiability" of some sections of the book, it should be of special interest in Wikipedia. Yet the history page shows "20:34, 30 May 2007 Jacknife737 (Talk | contribs) (25,297 bytes) (→War of the World - removed unnecessary information)"

It would seem very useful for Wikipedia to include a section on some of the contested "facts" for each non-fiction book, especially those that run counter to the current academic consensus. 16:38, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

As I am not User:Jacknife737, I am offering my view as a third party. The detailed critique of Ferguson's "War of the World" belongs to an article dedicated to the book, and not to this article, where the focus should be on Ferguson himself. You might want to create a new article on "War of the Worlds".
It appears that the critique of the book, though uncontroversial, is your own. I have no objection to its inclusion in Wikipedia as long as it is factually verifiable. However, it does violate the "No original research" (Wikipedia:NOR) policy.
Alternatively, you might place the critique on this Talk page for reference.--Palaeoviatalk 23:19, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. Just to clarify further, does "No original research" disallow disputing a claimed "fact" by checking sources or alternative sources? To give a simple example, to support the view that the 1932 Imperial Econonmic Conference was held in Ottawa and not Ottowa, two links were provided, one to entry on a British government document on the conference and another to a Canadian government link. Does that make it original research? Or is searching for a character string via a search facility for say diary entries, considered "original research"? Even or especially, if it is looking for the source or context of a quotation? 00:10, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I suppose the relevant guideline is Synthesis of published material serving to advance a position (WP:SYN). The guideline requires that verifiable, sourced facts should not be collected creatively (as an original contribution) by an editor to advance a certain view. There should not be a hidden agenda behind an assembly of facts.
I've not seen similar critique (focused on possible factual errors found by the editors) on any non-fiction book in Wikipedia. Have a look at Lists of books.
In practice, individual disputes on whether an edit constitutes original research are settled by applying "community standards", the standards of the group of Wikipedians paying attention to the article in question. Where an article touches controversial matters, even sourced edits can be endlessly disputed as to the reliability of the sources. --Palaeoviatalk 01:29, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

This is a Terrible Article[edit]

The criticism section is WAY too long and some of it is in the praise section. I added some more to the praise section but for some reason it was removed! What's up with that? Led125

I agree, there is still too much focus on the criticism section, there needs to be more of a balance in the article. Jacknife737 21:59, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Who keeps posting criticisms of Ferguson? This is totally unacceptable!

I repeat: who keeps posting criticisms of Ferguson? Don't just put them back up without justifying it! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:54, 2 November 2007 (UTC) BUT BUT I DONT LIKE THE BRITISH WAHHHH —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:52, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

These comments are inappropriate, while the criticism is properly cited. Ferguson is one of the most criticized people in the public eye because of his radical ideas. He does us all a service, but deserves the criticism he receives. Ollie Garkey (talk) 04:21, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Edit attempt[edit]

Given the large number of complaints that this is a 'terrible' article, because it contains too many spurious criticisms of the subject, i've deleted most of the section devoted to Johann Hari. This is partly because Hari is a minor British journalist and not an historian and not an authority on British imperialism, but also because the way it was presented was far too dense, containing a number of block quotes that made the whole thing a very awkward read. I didn't want to make any other changes to this article until I got some feedback, but I think the whole thing could be improved greatly, by keeping the piece as neutral as possible. This could mean deleting both the 'criticisms' and 'praise' sections and embedding them into the article. Ferguson is a very successful but polemical historian and therefore doesn't need separate sections to inform the reader that he has been criticised and praised; the entry can show this without loads of critical block quotes by obscure hacks or back-slaps by his pals. Any other thoughts on this?

Please sign your comments with ~~~~. Yes, I have thoughts. "Criticism" sections as isolated chunks of articles may not be the best way of presenting controversies. On the other hand, it is not great simply to cut out well-referenced material. A process of integrating material appropriately, retaining essential references while giving critical comments proportionate space, is sometimes called for. Charles Matthews (talk) 19:36, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

It is outrageous to not have a well-sourced criticisms section. This guy is seriously controversial. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:55, 27 November 2007 (UTC) Not really. Nope, I'm sorry. He's not all that controversial. The people who say that are probably the same who say that it's controversial not to live in their parent's basement.

It's a bit extreme to call a well respected Harvard historian "seriously controversial", he's no David Irving. Although, like many academics/authors he most certainly has attracted some criticism, however, the section of the article which is dedicated to criticism is disproportionately large compared to the rest of the article (it takes up about a 1/3 of the entire article!). We don't have to outline in detail every single objection that a critic has raised concerning Ferguson's work. The criticism section (which should remain or more favourably be integrated into the rest of the article) needs to be seriously reviewed and revised. Jacknife737 (talk) 21:22, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Is this a game of top-trumps? Hari's criticisms of Ferguson's position on the British Empire are not undone because he is a journalist and Ferguson works as a historian. Their arguments count not their status. As to Ferguson's controversial status it might be worth listening to this - Start the Week on British Empire - and then make a judgement about whether he courts controversy at every turn (I am of the opinion that he does).Rykalski (talk) 08:21, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

When discussing academic work, we would prefer that we receive academic commentary. If Hari's comments are themselves notable - as in, other people have remarked on them - then we will introduce some of them, sure. But academic commentary is more relevant to an academic's bio, if nothing else. Relata refero (talk) 09:33, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
Are we discussing 'academic' work? Ferguson's work covers radio, TV, and print journalism (either in his own name or under the pseudonyms Alec Campbell and FF Gillespie which he utilised when writing 'comment & opinion' for the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph) and the un-academic pseudo-historical 'Virtual History'. If Ferguson didn't participate in 'journalistic debate' then journalists wouldn't comment on him and his ideas. The press-conference and the editorial are not standard aspects of the work of academic historians yet they make up a goodly part of Ferguson's activities.
Further I'm not sure that academic commentary has anything to say about Ferguson's biography it has things to say about his ideas. Finally if you want to engage with the 'academic' commentary on Ferguson can I recommend;
Aviezer Tucker, Review: Historiographical Counterfactuals and Historical Contingency (Reviewed Work: Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals by Niall Ferguson), History and Theory, Vol. 38, No. 2 (May, 1999), pp. 264-276 Rykalski (talk) 15:22, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

A question of his treatment of WW1[edit]

Out of curiosity In what way does he deal in his book on WW1 with Imperial Germany's ethnic expulsion plans towards Poles and Jews, and Imperial Germany's plans to dominate Slavic and Balt populated countries by German minority strenghtened by colonists ?--Molobo (talk) 00:47, 17 January 2008 (UTC) [1] A good responce.--Molobo (talk) 04:17, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

"Controversy" Section[edit]

I just wanted to say, that I believe this section fits the article better, then the overlong individual sections of both praise and criticism. Jacknife737 (talk) 06:11, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I think we should add Lawrence James's critique of johann hari. It shows that Hari's own views are contested.-Led125 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:38, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I strongly disgaree with the near-excision of the criticisms. As several wikipedians comment above, Ferguson is seriously controverial, and the wiki entry must reflect that fact, offering a range of both praise and criticism.

I would advise you to check out the rule that wikipedia is not a paper encylopedia and does not need to make cuts for space, and also the rules concerning POV.David r from meth productions (talk) 02:18, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

It’s interesting that you only brought back the criticism section. Jacknife737 (talk) 19:30, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

If you want to add more criticisms then use the controversy section format, please. I realise we aren't pushed for space, but devoting multiple paragraphs to quotes from some or other journalist is disproportionate. Need I remind you that grandstanding is also unencyclopedic? (talk) 23:44, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

It's not grandstanding to quote a range of critics, along with people who praise Ferguson. It's outragoues to delete these well-sourced passages and turn this into a hagiography. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

It is grandstanding to give a disproportionate amount of space to a person's views, or a category of views (I note you didn't replace the "Controversy" section with both the "Criticism" and "Praise" sections, just the "Criticism" section). Johann Hari, for instance, is not an historian and was writing for a low-circulation newspaper (less than quarter of a million), yet his comments got several paragraphs and block quotes. If someone's comments are particularly pertinent, for instance if they are an eminent historian who engaged in a high profile public debate with Ferguson on some or other issue, then by all means elaborate appropriately, but it seems to me that your criteria for handing out space are not based on the relevance or interest of their views, but on how much they agree with your own. (talk) 11:06, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Exactly, the criticisms have been acknowledged, and if the reader wants further information they can examine the sources provided.Jacknife737 (talk) 22:12, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I advise you both to look to how many wiki users complained when there were sparse criticisms of Ferguson, because he is very seriously controversial.

The critic you are referring to, Johann Hari, was described as the best journalist in Britain by Amnesty International and has won several awards. He is relevant here, not least because Ferguson chose to engage in a public debate with him.

Jackknife, your argument that people can follow the sources is not valid. If the criticisms are worth noting, they are worth describing here. Please look at the rules concerning wiki is not a paper encyclopedia.

In the interests of compromise, I am prepared to consider some trimming of these criticisms, but your proposed cuts as they stand go far too far. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:52, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I have removed the BLP concerning material, and protected the article. If I find people inserting mounds of BLP-violating stuff again, on this or other articles, I will take even more serious actions. Work out these issues on Talk:, and get agreement, keeping in mind that WP:BLP is a very serious matter. Jayjg (talk) 00:42, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Eh? There were three critics mentioned, perhaps with excessive quoting, but all sourced to impeccable daily papers. How the hell was BLP violated in a manner justifying this over-reaction? Bad protection. Relata refero (talk) 08:46, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
The editor in question seems to edit Wikipedia mostly for the purpose of promoting Johann Hari and slagging people he disagrees with; that, of course, is a BLP issue. At least some of the references used go back to personal websites. If you feel you can write a non-BLP violating version of the text, please do so, I'm happy when articles can be brought into line with WP:NPOV without violating WP:BLP. Are you willing to take on that task? Jayjg (talk) 01:20, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Certainly. Once you unprotect it. Relata refero (talk) 19:43, 2 February 2008 (UTC)
Done. Jayjg (talk) 04:08, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
None of these articles are sourced to personal websites. The few that are sourced to Johan Hari's site are word-for-word reproductions from his Independent articles, as you can see if you look at the website. It is essential, as several editors said above, that there are well-sourced criticisms of this extremely controversial figure. At the moment it is a hagiography, and unacceptable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:38, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Having read several of Hari's pieces on Huffington Post Imust say, I would not consider anyone who believes that "quite possibly the best British film ever made (sic)was: Peeping Tom, released in 1960." a reliable source. Nitpyck (talk) 06:33, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Johann Hari has been completely discredited and sacked from the Independent. His views are about as valid as David Irvings Kentish 21:41 17 July 2012 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:42, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Redircect fix.[edit]

A redirect here is The War of the World. Instead it should be the novel instead. Anyone agree with me?--Vjingo (talk) 00:37, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

   Vj evidently meant that the link to The War of the World invokes a Rdr to the article on the novel that AFAIK almost everyone calls War of the Worlds. Since then, someone unlinked that reference to the Taylor historical work.
--Jerzyt 03:29, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

(Who is "Taylor")[edit]

The article states that Ferguson cites "Taylor" as an inspiration for becoming a historian. Does this "Taylor" only have a single name? There is no citation or even a link to this mysterious Taylor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:50, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

I assume AJP Taylor is meant but that seems highly unlikely given the ideological and methodological gulf between them.Rykalski (talk) 16:10, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

What is the point of Wikipedia?[edit]

Many of the comments here, both pro and con, confuse two issues. One is whether NF is right or left, or loved by the right or left. That is not an issue for Wikipedia, unless his work is so bad as to not merit attention except on political grounds. It is not.

There is a different, and more serious issue which should be part of this entry: his work is actually quite mediocre. Without his endless self-promotion, his wife's connections, etc., he would be viewed for what he is, a not very good popularizer of claims that are banal, wrong, or not his own.

I say this with some authority; I do not want to reveal my identity, but I can say in all seriousness that even those who agree with him think he has done almost nothing serious as a scholar, and that none of his work since the Rothschild book can be taken at all seriously. I should also say that even that work leans very heavily on the work of others, and he does not acknowledge that truth. The work since often is little more than a summary of what others have done, and again, he is not always generous about acknowledging that he is just repeating something already said better, elsewhere. Magacepas (talk) 13:37, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

If you believe this to be the case, please be bold and edit the article to reflect this, making sure to add reliable sources for the material that you add. For a topic such as history, the best sources are likely to be found within the academic literature. Also, given your remarks, it sounds like you could have a conflict of interest — don't let that stop you editing, but do be careful that material you add conforms to appropriate guidance. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 13:49, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
This is a good point. But it of course raises a general issue: most people who actually know enough to discuss something like this will have a conflict of interest, at some level. And for the record, I once tried to add some critical commentary on another living person, complete with citations to very negative book reviews, and it was immediately deleted. I was not even allowed to note some very plain facts (for example, that the person writes on a European topic but never cites anything that is not in English...) Magacepas (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 14:01, 9 March 2009 (UTC).
Editing the biographies of living people is slightly more complicated than for other articles because we must conform to extra guidance. Also, guidance the that applies to all articles is often enforced more carefully when a living breathing person is the subject of an article. If, as you say, you added very negative reviews, you must be careful that this still conforms to a neutral point of view. The books may have had positive review too. Best regards, --PLUMBAGO 14:07, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
Niall Ferguson's underlying narrative is clearly right-wing, with a few observations to placate people on the left thrown in to create the perception of balance. @Magacepas, one of the great problems of Wikipedia which is yet to be resolved is the fact that some editors sit on pages and impose their worldview on the topic at hand. So while Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that "anyone can edit", don't expect your edits to stay for very long. (talk) 08:57, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
It didn't. The edit from User:Magacepas suggesting that Ferguson was making "laughable" claims and taking the credit for the work of others was a contravention of the WP:BLP policy; it wasn't removed as an imposition of any page-sitter's world view. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:24, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you Magacepas. You have stated the problem clearly and accurately, for all the good it will do: he continues playing the media and providing an academic fig leaf for big money. (talk) 11:57, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Are these really five different books[edit]

It really takes a lot of gall to write and publish 5 books on the Rothchilds in the same year. You'd think he could have either written one big book. Wait could they all be different editions of the same book? I don't know, I can't even pronounce Niall.

  1. Ferguson, Niall (1999). The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker, 1849–1999. New York, N.Y.: Viking. ISBN 0-670-88794-3.
  2. Ferguson, Niall (1998). The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-81539-3.
  3. Ferguson, Niall (1998). The House of Rothschild. New York, N.Y.: Viking. ISBN 0-670-85768-8.

And on Amazon- The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 1798-1848, The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World's Banker: 1849-1999 Nitpyck (talk) 05:40, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Reply to Hari[edit]

This quote seems way too long and inappropriate to the criticism section. "In his response, Ferguson accused Hari of relying on books such as Caroline Elkins' Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya which explicitly compared British Imperial Rule with 20th century totalitarian governments. This was evidence, Ferguson said, of their sensationalism. (In response Hari queried why,[18] if this was the case, Ferguson endorsed Elkins' book for "the most painstaking research".[19]) Ferguson himself cited David Anderson's book on the Kenyan Mau Mau uprising, Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, to argue that the scale of the violence in Kenya was "exceptional" rather than typical of British rule, and cited Anderson's lower figures of 1,090 Kikuyu hanged, 150,000 "detained at one time or another", and 20,000 rebels killed in combat (he also noted that 'this was a civil war in which the rebels killed at least 1,800 African civilians, 200 British soldiers and policemen, and 32 European settlers'). Ferguson argued the decline of the British Empire was itself one of the causes of violence such as that seen in Kenya, saying It is an empirically verifiable fact that violence tends to increase as empires unravel, as indigenous ethnic groups compete, often violently, for future shares of power.[20]"

If his reply should be kept at all perhaps - In response Ferguson wrote "Hari simultaneously misrepresented my work and caricatured to the point of absurdity the history of British imperialism."[20] would be sufficient. Nitpyck (talk) 00:27, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Separated from his wife[edit]

This is patently untrue, like a huge amount of other things on this page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:27, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Fixed it, (along with the bit about the 80 lb salmon). Thanks for the catch! Is there anything else you see on there that's problematic? TallNapoleon (talk) 15:22, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe not - article in 7 February 2010 mail on sunday (UK) - [2]

Daily Mail is a reliable source, yes? Then this should probably be in the article. TallNapoleon (talk) 08:46, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Any sources at all or can this paragrah be removed[edit]

"Another strong criticism has been made of Ferguson's omittance of Ireland in his Empire thesis despite much of Britain's Empire being defined by Irish resistance. There has also been accusations of anti Irish sentiment against the writer who grew up in a strong anti Irish environment in Glasgow." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:11, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Agreed, there seems to be no references for these strong criticisms and they appear to have no truth behind them. In the UK edition of Empire Ireland is mentioned more than Jamaica or Canada. I can also remember Ferguson being filmed walking the streets of Derry discussing Ireland in the television series relating to the book. Is there any evidence of his upbringing in a strong anti-Irish environment? Benson85 (talk) 22:28, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Sounds very improbable. With a name like Ferguson he has probably has left-footers in his recent ancestry. (talk) 12:02, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Bilderberg participant[edit]

Participant in the 2010 Bulderberg meeting. What are his interests there? He has a right to his own opinions, NOT to his own facts. Progressives are literally rewriting history, creating their own fantasy world. This man is dangerous to the sovereignty of America, and nobody should take his teachings seriously. (talk) 16:52, 16 November 2010 (UTC) WLH OWO Association of America

WSJ resource, regarding Euro fiscal union, Late-2000s financial crisis, Treaty of Lisbon, ...[edit]

2021: The New Europe; Niall Ferguson peers into Europe's future and sees Greek gardeners, German sunbathers—and a new fiscal union. Welcome to the other United States. Novemeber 19, 2011

Also see "United States of Europe (talk) 01:59, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

The New York Review of Books resource[edit]

The Disappointed Lover of the West December 8, 2011 The New York Review of Books David Bromwich of Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson, Penguin (talk) 21:54, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

resource[edit],2 The Global Thinkers' Book Club; Want to think like the world's best minds? Start by reading like them. The Foreign Policy Global Thinkers' 20 most recommended titles. November 28, 2011

3) Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson Recommended by Sherry Rehman and Kenneth Rogoff (talk) 07:53, 4 December 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Here is an excerpt ...

"The critical point is that the differential between the West and the Rest was institutional. Western Europe overtook China partly because in the West there was more competition in both the political and the economic spheres. Austria, Prussia and latterly even Russia became more effective administratively and militarily because the network that produced the Scientific Revolution arose in the Christian but not in the Muslim world. The reason North America's ex-colonies did so much better than South America's was because British settlers established a completely different system of property rights and political representation in the North from those built by Spaniards and Portuguese in the South.… European empires were able to penetrate Africa not just because they had the Maxim gun; they also devised vaccines against tropical diseases to which Africans were just as vulnerable. In the same way, the earlier industrialization of the West reflected institutional advantages." (talk) 01:25, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Not a shred of potential relevance to this article. Furthermore the quote is probably a copyright violation, and has clearly mistaken Wikilinks, but I'll leave that to others to deal with. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 01:34, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Catherine Bennett comment[edit]

Is this contribution, sourced from Comment is free by Catherine Bennett in yesterday's Observer (not The Guardian, as written) liable to a revert as WP:RECENT and WP:UNDUE? --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:36, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

OK, no objections implementing. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:57, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Undue Weight[edit]

The tidbit below seems to be awfully specific and detailed for such a small point. I think it gives undue weight; it even sounds like someone with an axe to grind. I think it should be removed.

"Rachel Johnson has said of Ferguson at the time: He was attractive. He was clever. And I still remember him making me sob with laughter by describing how a man feels if he succeeds in bringing a woman to orgasm (like Jesse Owens at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, he said, raising his arms aloft).[11] Johnson commissioned Ferguson to write an essay for a collection: Ferguson's piece was one of the first to come in. I can't remember much about it, but it wasn't quite the ticket. I remember sending him a photocopied letter that I was sending to all the contributors, with suggestions, pertaining to his essay, at the bottom. I found his reply in my pigeonhole, a few days later. "Dear Rachel Johnson," it read. "F--- off. Yours, Niall Ferguson." I assumed that he wanted nothing to do with the book again, so I re-commissioned the piece.[11]" QuizzicalBee (talk) 07:30, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Agree: a look at some recent contributions does suggest that hatchets are being ground. In conjunction with the action described in the above section, boldly deleting.--Old Moonraker (talk) 07:57, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
What's wrong with you Old Moonraker? Getting off on defending the indefensible? Does it make you feel interesting and clever? (talk) 12:00, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
I put that up there! I don't object to it being removed however, but there is NO axe to grind! Farrtj (talk) 20:34, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Prakaj Mishra, LRB[edit]

Is there a reason Mishra's rather unflattering portrayal of Ferguson in the London Review of Books is not mentioned? Has it been added before before but deleted by Ferguson groupies, or deleted for some other reason? If it's just not been added before, I'm happy to do the work and put a summary of it into the article. ~ Iloveandrea (talk) 20:19, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Watch this man
re: Watch this man
re: re: Watch this man
Niall Ferguson threatens to sue over accusation of racism
~ Iloveandrea (talk) 21:46, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Added here, discussed here, removed here. The reason was WP:UNDUE. Please don't put it back without a proper discussion as to its balance and weight. The last discussions were only brief as in substance they echoed earlier talk page posts, for example here and here, that the article had become little more than a hatchet job. The deletion, though, needn't be regarded as the last word.
I don't deny that there are Ferguson groupies, but I am not one!
--Old Moonraker (talk) 21:56, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I don't care enough to attempt to re-add it. ~ Iloveandrea (talk) 19:16, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Professional qualifications as academic historian[edit]

I note this article doesn't mention Ferguson's lack of Doctoral (Ph.D.) qualifications. In the United States this is almost uniformly the minimum qualification for one to be considered an academic historian. While the British designation of "lecturer" (and the French tradition of Doctoral dissertation as mid-career achievement) does persist in allowing a few non-degree professor/researchers, it is highly unusual for American universities to award the title "Professor of History" to someone with a M.A. as a terminal degree. See the article for Lecturer on this.

I note this in particular, because I know it is a point of discussion/criticism in the field. I witnessed this as a student when Columbia hired Simon Schama, also from a background as non-doctoral lecturer and author, in much the same situation as Ferguson.

The article should at least clarify this point. T L Miles (talk) 18:49, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Maybe you should tell him to stop claiming he has a D.Phil on his official website then ( Farrtj (talk) 19:19, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Ferguson does indeed have a Doctorate, and this should be included in this article.

Problem being, it was not listed here, and his CV oddly doesn't make it clear (where, when, field).

So rather than adding a smart-ass comment about it, I went out and researched it for you.

He has a D.Phil from Oxford University, Magdalen College, 1989. His dissertation (with reference) was:

  • Business and Politics in the German Inflation: Hamburg 1914 -- 1924. Ferguson, Niall C, D.Phil. University of Oxford (United Kingdom), 1989. 389pp. Order Number BRD-97777

Sorry for confusion, but hopefully this will help regular contributors correct that omission. T L Miles (talk) 20:04, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Ah sorry, I didn't intend to come across as rude. It was my failed attempt at wit. And well done with the research. I think I'm the major contributor to the Ferguson article, so I'll add your research shortly. Farrtj (talk) 20:09, 20 June 2012 (UTC)


Let me interrupt..Wiki is a very useful and enjoyable site but it has one sick and rather unpleasant trick that everyone should know about. As an American/Jewish creation(and good luck to it) it is very hostile to anything British ,particularly because ,to Americans ignorant bewilderment there is so much from Britain on wiki..those goddam British seem to be everywhere!!! As a result wiki plays the trick of always whereever possible NEVER using the word British but always breaking people from Britain up into scottish welsh Irish Cornish Northern England,the West of England etcetc ... Because there are always nationalists to complain about the use of British ,wiki feels it can get away with this destructive lying trick....Its true there is a lot of primitive nationalistic hate going around in Britain and elsewhere..however... The reality is however that until Scotland becomes independent ..which wont happen or until Wales becomes independent which wont happen or until Northern Ireland becomes independent which wont happen all the people in those parts of the united kingdom are British citizens and should be called British and are British .... Wikis sick and nasty little spite over this business should be ignored .End Of Story. I would add that there is an obvious way round this if it is considered important.As I have stated ,all scsots welsh and english etc are ALL British whether they like it or not and whether Americans or wiki like it or not...however it is reasonable to add that someone is British, born in Scotland of Scottish parents etcetc.. The term OfScottish Irish ETHNICITY etc should NOT be used..this is the strange trick so called Irish Americans use when having a great great grand parent who came to America in 1830 Americans happily call themselves Irish This business is not a joke If wiki is to be taken seriously it should not twist the facts of a situation as it pleases.. Wiki likes to say that is wikis policy etcetc .. There should be no wiki policy where the truth is concerned A British citizen is a British citizen whether they like it of not.. Incidentally I have wondered what happens to people endlessly talking about being scottish ,irish etcetc when they find themselves in a sticky situation..if they fall off a mountain when walking in Peru or the Himalayas..when someone finds them in pain do they grunt Im Scottish or Irish or even EU citizen? Well what do you think? Wiki please stop this sick manipulation of the legal facts NOW80.98.113.13 (talk) 21:56, 5 May 2013 (UTC) (talk) 21:32, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

Nationality -- should be described as British -- perhaps (if necessary/ important) qualify as having Scottish ethnicity? Not sure why all Scottish ethnicity people are identified as Scottish rather than British? Is there a Wikipedia uniformity policy? Are English ethnicity people described as English? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

There is no consensus on Wikipedia whether English/Scottish etc or British should be used to describe nationality. Ferguson has described himself as "Scottish" pretty frequently of late however (cite: the Reith Lectures 2012). And personally, I prefer to use the home nation description whenever possible, as it is simply more descriptive. Ferguson was born and educated in Scotland, to Scottish parents and exclusively Scottish grandparents. His citizenship is British, but his nationality is Scottish. It's not as if he is shy about his Scottishness either. Farrtj (talk) 14:27, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Think the Wikipedia bosses need to come out with a policy and enforce it. I would strongly prefer British; Spanish; Indian over Scottish/ English/ Welsh/ Irish; Catalan/ Basque/ Castilian; Punjabi/ Tamil/ Bengali, etc, etc .... I am Indian, and that way lies madness!!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:25, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Looking at other prominent Scottish figures such as the soccer player Scott Brown, comedian Frankie Boyle, or First Minister of the Scottish Parliament Alex Salmond, I think there is reasonable precedence for calling Niall Ferguson Scottish. (talk) 12:21, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Desperately needs IPA[edit]

I don't understand how to pronounce this exotic name.

It might help to have IPA.

Is it /'nial/, /ni'al/, /ni:l/, /niah/ or /'niaɬ/?

Thank you very much. (I think the others are maybe more common, though disambiguation on Campbell is probably a good plan.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:30, 12 September 2012 (UTC)


Ferguson demanded an apology and threatened to sue Mishra on charges of libel

That was a year ago. Was the lawsuit ever filed? was an apology ever provided? What would the relevant statute of limitations be? --Christofurio (talk) 14:26, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

Keynes sexuality incident[edit]

I think we're verging into "undue weight" territory on this relatively minor incident. Compared to the reems of academic and popular commentary that his books and articles have received, surely we don't need to get into a blow by blow of the reaction to this incident. I propose removing the quotes and leaving it to readers to investigate the details. But open to counter-argument and don't want to remove content others think is valuable.... Thoughts? Peregrine981 (talk) 14:28, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Definitely, Peregrine981. That section is getting far too long, not least because the criticism section was relatively long already before this. Ideally, we aren't supposed to have a specific criticism section at all, but rather incorporate criticism in the ordinary story. (I am considering moving the book sections of the article up in the article, as his main work should be part of the body and not listed at the bottom). Regards, Iselilja (talk) 20:16, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
I'd agree with moving the books section up, and ideally merging the criticism in with his ideas section. Ideally more focus could be paid to the books and ideas he has proposed that have garnered some respect and praise, rather than simply the controversial media cat fights he's been involved in. Peregrine981 (talk) 13:01, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
I've cut out entirely the lengthy paragraph giving various commenters' reactions to this incident. It was excessive and veering off-topic, and not really what Wikipedia biographies are for. The 'Keynes controversy' section probably does deserve to be in this article, but hopefully now it's of a more appropriate length. Robofish (talk) 21:12, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

I am seeking views on the insertion of the statement of Andrew Sullivan and others in this article. Do we require a series of character statements for or against Mr Ferguson's general views on sexuality, which the incident involved did not in fact reveal? In my opinion, this article is served best by having both the initial statements about Keynes and the subsequent statements of Mr Ferguson in which he makes his full apology and clear explanation. Inserting the assumptions of other parties, either for or against, about Mr Ferguson's presumed character rather than recording the content of both his actual statements risk giving undue weight to implied criticism. As a living person, Mr Ferguson should not have to have his wider personal behaviour inspected and perpetually evaluated for hints, nor need to justify his good character.Ethdhelwen (talk) 11:01, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Sullivan comments[edit]

Perhaps User:Ethdhelwen could more fully explain their objection to the Andrew Sullivan comments? I don't see why they are irrelevant to the context, in which the question at hand is Ferguson's alleged homophobia or lack thereof? It seems to be a relevant datapoint to me, since Sullivan's post was written in direct response to the incident in question, and is not just a general character observation. Peregrine981 (talk) 10:32, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Hi Peregrine! I was in fact doing so, but your comment set up an edit conflict, so I will have to start again!Ethdhelwen (talk) 10:45, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Ethdhelwen. I think the article is fine with the two current paragraphs (as of writing) which note his comments, the general criticism of them and Fergusson’s relatively unqualified apology. If we insert Sullivan’s defense of Fergusson, we would probably also have to insert one or more of those who critized Fergusson, and we are at risk at ending up giving undue weight to remarks which are not central to his work . Like Ethdhelwen , I also think it’s preferable to focus on the specific comments, and not directly on character (whether he is a homophobe or not, etc). Regards, Iselilja (talk) 11:39, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
I can see the concern regarding undue weight. At the same time, it was an incident that received a large amount of non-trivial coverage in reliable sources. I could perhaps agree that Sullivan's comment is overly general for inclusion here. However, I notice that a number of relevant sources have been cut from the discussion which I think are relevant. For example several sources discussed how his remark was consistent with a history of attacks on Keynes' homosexuality from right leaning academics, and that Ferguson himself had previously been accused of homophobia in much the same context. Those are relevant to the discussion certainly. Peregrine981 (talk) 12:47, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Criticisms on criticism should be irrelevant[edit]

Rubentomas (talk) 20:09, 31 October 2014 (UTC) Though a need for a balanced view is understandable, writing that an article is biased because it has more objective entries against the subject than for the subject is kind of foolish considering that, on Wikipedia, anyone can and should add or edit entries in order to stimulate that balance.

On the entry on Colonialism, on the other hand, I find it strange that nobody has ever publicly, and in accordance to Wikipedia records in this article, criticized the perception, advanced by Ferguson himself, that his take on the subject is mainly from the point of view of the colonizer(s) and not the colonized.

In the case of Senegal, for example, surely the views of the Senegalese people themselves should be taken into account, shouldn't they?

Risking being critical of Mr Ferguson, isn't this a paternalistic view of history?

Poor use of corruption[edit]

Ferguson argues that the allies made poor use of (A) as well as (B).

A = "their vast economic resources such as those coming from their colonies"

B = "corruption in the war time governments"

MaxEnt 19:49, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

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Jon Wilson and the British Empire[edit]

The British Empire section is far too long, and is almost entirely a platform for the views of one Jon Wilson. Who the hell is this? If his views are so important, his supporter(s?) should make a Wikipedia page for him, and move this stuff to that page. (talk) 02:59, 22 September 2016 (UTC)22 Sept 2016

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The Pity of War - Text about this book should be much smaller, either through summarizing or by creating a separate article[edit]

In the World War I section, rather than a short summarization of the contents of this book, the article goes into a great deal of detail, much of it sourced to the book itself. This article is supposed to be about Ferguson himself, and is not supposed to be a platform for promoting a book. Depending on the availability of book reviews, etc., either (1) The information should be summarized to just what's been discussed in independent sources, not more than 1/3 of the current size, or, (2) if there's a lot of independent information available, then the book should have its own article and all but one paragraph should be removed from this one.—Anne Delong (talk) 17:29, 17 November 2016 (UTC)