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Square and the Tower, The

Product no.: 978-0735222939
A brilliant recasting of the turning points in world history, including the one we’re living through, as a collision between old power hierarchies and new social networks.

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Publisher's Synopsis
The 21st century has been hailed as the Age of Networks. However, in The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread. Just because conspiracy theorists like to fantasize about such networks doesn't mean they are not real.

From the cults of ancient Rome to the dynasties of the Renaissance, from the founding fathers to Facebook, The Square and the Tower tells the story of the rise, fall and rise of networks, and shows how network theory - concepts such as clustering, degrees of separation, weak ties, contagions and phase transitions - can transform our understanding of both the past and the present.

Reviews
"Remarkably interesting... always surprising and always thought-provoking in the places and entities it chooses to pause and examine, everything from the Mafia to the Soviet Union of Stalin... The Square and the Tower in addition to being provocative history, may prove to be a bellwether work of the Internet Age."      ~Christian Science Monitor

"Captivating and compelling. Whether describing the surprisingly ineffective 18th century network of the mysterious Illuminati that continue to be the subject of crank conspiracy theorists or the shockingly effective 20th century network of Cambridge University spies working for the Soviets, Ferguson manages both to tell a good story and provide important insight into the specific qualities that power successful networks."      ~The New York Times

"An engaging, provocative history of networks (and their relationships to hierarchies) from ancient times to the invention of the printing press to the pervasiveness of the personal computer. Breathtaking in its scale and scope, The Square and the Tower applies insights of network theory to (among other subjects) Portugal’s foothold in Macau, the 'conquest' of the Incas, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, Stalin’s Terror, World War II, the fall of the Soviet Union, the founding of the European Union and the Great Recession of 2008-09."      ~Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excerpt
"The first paradox of Illuminism, then, was that it was a network that craved an elaborate hierarchical structure, even as it inveighed against existing hierarchies. In his 1782 'Address to the newly promoted Illuminati dirigenti', Weishaupt set out his worldview. In the state of nature, man had been free, equal and happy; division into classes, private property, personal ambition and state formation had come later, as the 'great unholy mainsprings and causes of our misery'. Mankind had ceased to be 'one great family, a single empire' because of the 'desire of men to differentiate themselves from one another'. But Enlightenment, spread by the activities of secret societies, could overcome this stratification of society. And then 'princes and nations would disappear from the earth without any need for violence, the human race would become one family, and the world would become the habitation of rational beings.'

Had the Illuminati remained faithful to Weishaupt’s original blueprint, they would long ago have been forgotten, if they had ever been heard of at all. The key to their growth and later notoriety was their infiltration of German Masonic lodges."

Biography
Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of fifteen books, most recently The Square and the Tower.

Author Ferguson, Niall
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 592 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 2019
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