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In 1411, had you been able to circumnavigate the globe, the idea that the West would come to dominate the Rest for most of the next half millennium would have struck you as wildly fanciful. And yet it happened. What was it about the civilization of Western Europe that allowed it to trump the outwardly superior empires of the Orient? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues, was that the West developed six “killer applications” that the Rest lacked: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism and the work ethic.
The key question today is whether or not the West has lost its monopoly on these six things. If so, Ferguson warns, we may be living through the end of Western ascendancy. Civilization: The West and the Rest is the defining narrative of modern world history.