Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. He is an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for his PBS series The Ascent of Money. His many other prizes include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013). He was named Columnist of the Year at the 2018 British Press Awards.
Ferguson is not only publishing massive works of history at an astonishing rate; he is publishing well-written and controversial books. The Pity of War (Forecasts, Mar. 8) caused a stir by arguing that Britain bore the brunt of the blame for WWI. The completion of his two-volume history of the Rothschild banking empire begins at a high point of wealth, power and civic involvement, with Benjamin Disraeli a close family friend and Lionel Rothschild playing a leading role in gaining Jews the right to sit in Parliament. The book ends with the post-WWII rebuilding of the Rothschilds into a far-flung "mini-multinational." Drawing on thousands of letters from private Rothschild archives, Ferguson does a masterful job of showing how the Rothschild financial empire interacted with the governments of Europe. His account is peppered with countless refutations of previous interpretations and analyses. Yet the larger historical picture is often blurred as Ferguson furnishes blow-by-blow accounts of, for example, the French Rothschilds' ultimately successful decades-long battle against the Cr‚dit Mobilier. Readers will be left wanting more analysis of the larger sea change that consigned the Rothschild style of private banking to its current secondary status. And while he follows the senior partners in Britain and France (other houses, in Naples, Vienna and Frankfurt, either closed or simply receded from Ferguson's view), Ferguson sticks to their public deeds and roles, rarely venturing into the personal or the psychological. Still, this history is teeming with soundly argued expositions on the role of a singularly important family. Illus., charts, tables, appendices. (Nov.) FYI: In November, Penguin will publish The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets 1798-1848 in paperback. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
In this sequel to The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets 1798Ä1848 (LJ 10/15/98), Ferguson takes the Rothschild consortium from its zenith in the mid-1800s to the present day. In his view, the fundamental lesson of the Rothschild history is that the world evolves; over time, it is difficult to maintain superiority in any area, banking included. (Superiority, of course, is a relative term.) Risk and finance go hand in glove, and as the Rothschild consortium aged, it grew more and more "establishment," formally participating in government affairs. At the same time, it was unable to establish a beachhead on American shores, which ultimately led to its diminished importance in banking on an international scale. For students of economic history, this is a fascinating volume, but other readers will find this hard going. Recommended only for specialized collections.ÄSteven Silkunas, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"A stupendous achievement, a triumph of historical research and
imagination."-Robert Skidelsky, The New York Review of Books
"Niall Ferguson's brilliant and altogether enthralling two-volume family saga proves that academic historians can still tell great stories that the rest of us want to read."-The New York Times Book Review
"Superb ... An impressive ... account of the Rothschilds and their role in history."-Boston Globe