Quotes and Insights by Niall Ferguson


  • The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
  • Civilization: The West and the Rest
  • Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World
  • The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook
  • The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West
  • The Pity of War: Explaining World War I
  • The Great Degeneration
  • Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire
  • The House of Rothschild, Vol 1: Money’s Prophets
  • Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe
  • Kissinger: Vol 1: The Idealist
  • The House of Rothschild: The World’s Banker 1849-1999
  • Virtual History: Alternatives And Counterfactuals
  • The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000
  • Always Right
  • High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg
  • The End of the Liberal Order?
  • 1914: Why the World Went to War
  • Is This the End of the Liberal International Order?: The Munk Debate on Geopolitics
  • The Abyss: World War I and the End of the First Age of Globalization-A Selection from The War of the World
  • Has the European Experiment Failed?
  • Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation, 1897-1927
  • The British Empire was a Force for Good: An Intelligence Squared Debate
  • Kissinger: A Biography – Volume 2
  • Empires on the Edge of Chaos
  • The Arbroath and Forfar Railway: The Dundee Direct Line and the Kirriemuir Branch
  • Η εξέλιξη του χρήματος: Μια οικονομική ιστορία του κόσμου, τομ. 1
  • Liberating Learning
  • Caledonian in LMS Days (Railways in Retrospect, #5)




  • “So much of liberalism in its classical sense is taken for granted in the west today and even disrespected. We take freedom for granted, and because of this we don’t understand how incredibly vulnerable it is.”
  • “If the financial system has a defect, it is that it reflects and magnifies what we human beings are like. Money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong. Booms and busts are products, at root, of our emotional volatility.”
  • “The ascent of money has been essential to the ascent of man.”
  • “There really is no such thing as ‘the future’, singular. There are only multiple, unforeseeable futures, which will never lose their capacity to take us by surprise.”
  • “No civilization, no matter how mighty it may appear to itself, is indestructible.”
  • “In a time of chaos, it is the micro-manager who ascends”
  • “It was an idea that made the crucial difference between British and Iberian America – an idea about the way people should govern themselves. Some people make the mistake of calling that idea ‘democracy’ and imagining that any country can adopt it merely by holding elections. In reality, democracy was the capstone of an edifice that had as its foundation the rule of law – to be precise, the sanctity of individual freedom and the security of private property rights, ensured by representative, constitutional government.”
  • “We shall quickly find ourselves about as important to the algorithms as animals currently are to us.”
  • “What makes a civilization real to its inhabitants, in the end, is not just the splendid edifices at it centre, nor even the smooth functioning of the institutions they house. At its core, a civilization is the texts that are taught in its schools, learned by its students and recollected in times of tribulation.”
  • “It’s all very well for us to sit here in the west with our high incomes and cushy lives, and say it’s immoral to violate the sovereignty of another state. But if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don’t rule it out.”
  • “The dead outnumber the living fourteen to one, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril”
  • “Simple point is that institutions are to humans what hives are to bees. They are the structures within which we organize ourselves as groups. You know when you are inside one, just as a bee knows when it is in the hive. Institutions have boundaries, often walls. And, crucially, they have rules.”
  • “Because of preferential attachment, most social networks are profoundly inegalitarian.”
  • “The success of a civilization is measured not just in its aesthetic achievements but also, and surely more importantly, in the duration and quality of life of its citizens.”