Thursday 3 May 2018

The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson

Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power’ is the subtitle of this history lesson, in which Niall Ferguson examines our societal structures for evidence of towers (hierarchies) and squares (networks) and where the power has been resident. Niall is a respected global professor and scholar and self-admitted networking historian - so eminently qualified to make these observations. The result is a fascinating, if sometimes long-winded journey through the Illuminati, the age of emperors and explorers, through to the Kissinger and Davos days culminating in FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) and the Trump era. The tome’s not short on details  - references are abundant.

It’s not a book you want to rush. Rather, you want to treat it like a lecture series and spread it out over months or weeks, grateful that there’s no final exam. There are also colour plates and illustrated network and hierarchy charts, which add to the richness and glory of the learning experience.

The author can also not resist a few little forecasts - what is history worth if you can’t use its data points to predict the lasting power of Trump Tower and Facebook’s ‘sprawling campus of open plan offices and play-areas’?

I loved it, and will be back for more from this author.

ISBN: 9780241298985

You may also enjoy The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb or Mohamed El-Erian's The Only Game in Town.

5 stars

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