Vincent van den Born / The Old Continent
After summarising and commenting on art historian Kenneth Clark’s 1969 13-part series Civilisation, what better than to follow up with historian Niall Ferguson’s 2012 six-part PBS-series called, well, Civilisation, based on his book of the same name.
In the first episode Ferguson discusses the way in which ‘Westerners’ came to dominate ‘Resteners’ after 1500. He identifies six ‘killer apps’ which made this possible, which he says they’re “history’s greatest revelation.” In this episode, his main argument is a comparison between Europe on the one hand and China on the other.
Both because of his timeframe and the vast geographical area he covers, Ferguson’s narrative has some oversimplifications and generalisations. He admits as much himself in the introduction to the book. His defence is that without these ‘errors’, the book cannot be written, the series not made. What has been left out, “has been left out for a reason.“