I’ve read other books by Niall Ferguson and read his articles on his website. I enjoyed Civilization The West and the Rest. He summarized the rise of the West, what he called the Six Killer Apps, as follows:
It seems, we don’t aim for things if we don’t have competition. We needed the Cold War to provide us with a reason to strive. Now, we have new reasons to compete. If we pay attention to history, winning doesn’t mean the entire game is over, just that particular inning or period.
2. Science. Would seem to make sense. Science helps us grow.
3. Property Rights. Gives us a stake in something.
4. Medicine. Self explanatory.
5. The Consumer Society. Well, we need to balance this. Getting everything you want makes you less able to compete when you need to. This is personal experience.
6. The Work Ethic. Needs to be kept up.
If we are to succeed, we need to be on our game all the time.