I started the book in 2016 and stopped it half way. Then I picked it up again recently and finally finished it today (probably after a year since I started!). It's a very detailed history book focused on the British Empire history, and is very different from any of the history books that I've read before. Lots of quotes and references from historical contexts to support his argument. This is quite the same as what I was taught in the PrincetonX: HIS201x Global History Lab course on edX. Good job Niall Ferguson!
4 things that I learnt from the book:
- it took the British 300 years to build an empire after fierce competition with the Spaniards, the Dutch, and others. It peaked during the late Victorian Britain. Achievement include the colinization of India, the white dominions, rule of a quarter of the world's land surface, global trade network, global naval bases,etc.
- The British Empire exported immigrants, capital, technology, insititutions, which all improved the development of the world (less technologically advanced societies), although with lots of bitter consequences and controversial debates.
- The empire collapsed after World War II as it owed too much debt to the Americans and couldn't afford the economic burden running the empire any further. It had lost the empire but failed to find a role.
- American informal empire took over the global burden, considering itself responsible not just for waging a war against terrorism and rogue states, but also for spreading the benefits of capitalism and democracy overseas.