Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Niall Ferguson

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Empire Guy said...
I was once having a discussion with a friend and colleague (both of us do, or have done, academic work on empires) about Ferguson's "American Empire" stuff, and he pointed out that Ferguson's an interesting scholar. Why? Well, if you ask British imperial historians about his work, they'll say its rubbish but they hear his stuff on economic history is pretty good. When you ask economic historians about Ferguson's work in their area, they'll say its not so good but they've heard positive things about his World War I book. If you ask military historians about his World War I book, they dismiss it but mention that people seem to like his book on the Rothschilds. Not sure if all of these criticisms are right (his stuff on American Empire is rubbish, though), but I think it might capture an essential truth about Ferguson's ability to maintain his reputation despite mostly contributing shoddy arguments to the public sphere.