Review: Doom

The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson


I soaked this book up! Unfortunately, I’m a shallow sponge, and I will probably have to revisit it at some point to really process all of the information here. This was a good book to read on the Kindle where you can export your notes and highlights if you want.

Ferguson sets out in the book to take a deep look at the history of disasters, both natural and man made, and assess them to see what sort of pattern there may be in them, how they affect nations and political systems, and whether of not we can glean wisdom from them about how COVID (our most recent disaster) might change our national and global politic.

The most fascinating pieces of the book, for me, were where he stacks up our own pandemic to those of the past. He concludes we’ve suffered more in COVID from poorly managed and over-bloated bureaucracies than from a proportionately catastrophic disease (when compared to previous contagions). One of his central points is that disasters are often only as big and far-reaching as the network connections they affect. The better the connections of a network the larger the disaster— especially a disaster by contagion— can grow.

Good writing. Good research. Thought provoking insights. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants something a little more substantial to chew on.

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