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Niall Ferguson

Historian, writer, broadcaster, and Harvard professor

Niall Ferguson, is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.

Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

Presentations

Civilization: The West & the Rest
Western civilization’s rise to global dominance is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five centuries. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? Acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson argues that beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts, or “killer applications”—competition, science, the rule of law, modern medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic—that the Rest lacked, allowing it to surge past all other competitors.

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of our financial system, from its genesis in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. What’s more, Ferguson reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history, arguing that the evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilization. As Ferguson traces the crisis from ancient Egypt’s Memphis to today’s Chongqing, he offers bold and compelling new insights into the rise? and fall of not just money but Western power as well.

Also among his numerous speech topics:

Political Risk and the Global Business Environment

Globalization: Past, Present and Possible Futures

Is the United States an Empire? Should it be?

Are Capitalism and Democracy Bound to Win?

High Liquidity and Low Volatility in Historical Perspective

To Have and Have Not: Commodities in the Long Run

Business Empires: How Big Companies Rise and Fall

Awards

2012
Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement

2010
Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service


  • Niall is a historian with a good grasp of economics, and a willingness to challenge head-on, conventional beliefs. He is highly articulate, engages the audience directly, and seems able to speak easily on a wide range of topics. He's one of the most capable and stimulating speakers I've ever seen.

    - First Quadrant
  • Niall Ferguson's keynote speech at our annual conference in Montreux on the likelihood of a return to the gold standard, was both entertaining and informative. Delegates gave him the highest rating of all the speakers on their feedback forms.

    - London Bullion Market Association
  • Niall Ferguson is a hoot! He had the audience in the palm of his hand in two seconds!

    - Distinguished Lecturer Series Vero Beach
  • Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation.

    - The Times
  • Niall Ferguson was a great draw to our conference and lived up to all our expectations as a guest speaker. He understood perfectly what we were hoping for and our audience was captivated by his highly intelligent but easy to understand address.

    - GAM
  • Not only is he a brilliant speaker with a vast array of financial and historical anecdotes at his finger tips, he's also a down to earth, approachable guy. He will energize the audience with his engaging analysis of geopolitics, history and finance.

    - Drobny Capital

Summary Profile

He has published fourteen books. His first, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927, was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, was a UK bestseller. In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. The latter won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and was also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award. In 2001, after a year as Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000.

Niall Ferguson is also a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4, the UK terrestrial broadcaster. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, was a bestseller in both Britain and the United States. The sequel, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, was published in 2004 by Penguin, and prompted Time magazine to name him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Two years later he published The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, a television adaptation of which was screened by PBS in 2007. The international bestseller, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, followed in 2008; it too was a PBS series, winning the International Emmy award for Best Documentary. In 2011 he published Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a Channel 4/PBS documentary series. This was followed in 2012 by a three-part television series “China: Triumph and Turmoil”.

Ferguson is an accomplished biographer. In addition to the history of the Rothschild family, he recently published High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010) and is currently writing a life of Henry Kissinger. In 2011 his film company Chimerica Media released its first feature-length documentary, “Kissinger”, which won the New York International Film Festival’s prize for Best Documentary. His most recent book is The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, which will be published in the United States this June.

A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Niall Ferguson writes regularly for newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the Philippe Roman Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics in 2010-11 and the BBC Reith Lecturer for 2012. He is a member of the board of trustees of the American Academy in Berlin, the Museum of American Finance and the New York Historical Society. His many prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010) and the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012). He is Managing Director at Greenmantle LLC and serves on the Board of Directors of Affiliated Managers Group, Inc., a global asset management company.

Niall Ferguson is married to the acclaimed author and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He has four children.