The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die
In a great fan of Niall Ferguson's writing and scholarship, but this isn't one of his better works. It's not that there's anything at all wrong with his central message that many of the institutions that have raised-up western civilisation are being undermined. The problem I have is the fatalism with which he presents these problems, and the notion that it is somehow pre-ordained by historical processes: a view that feels almost Marxist without the positive expected outcome.
I think this is a book that cries out for a longer treatment or a second volume, an analysis and comparison of other approaches to societal problems, or an analysis of the ways in which the tensions that Ferguson sees building up might be released, even if those comparisons and processes would inevitably end in disaster.
2/5. Finished 17 December 2014.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)