#634: Niall Ferguson, Historian — The Coming Cold War II, Visible and Invisible Geopolitics, Why Even Atheists Should Study Religion, Masters of Paradox, Fatherhood, Fear, and More
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Niall Ferguson (@nfergus), MA, DPhil, FRSE, is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. He is the author of 16 books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization, and Kissinger, 1923–1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize.
He is an award-winning filmmaker, too, having won an International Emmy for his PBS series The Ascent of Money. His 2018 book, The Square and the Tower, was a New York Times bestseller and also adapted for television by PBS as Niall Ferguson’s Networld. In 2020 he joined Bloomberg Opinion as a columnist.
In addition, he is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, a New York-based advisory firm; a co-founder of Ualá, a Latin American financial technology company; and a trustee of the New York Historical Society, the London-based Centre for Policy Studies, and the newly founded University of Austin.
His latest book, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe, was published last year by Penguin and was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize.
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[05:45] How Niall's multi-faceted career has gone according to plan.
[08:00] The license to be outrageous in academia ain't what it used to be.
[14:53] High table, dregs of Château Lafite, and hyperbolic references.
[20:26] A.J.P. Taylor and the philosophy of history.
[25:00] How does a historian find an "ear" for historical resonance?
[29:48] What Niall would ask A.J.P. if they were Château Lafite drinking buddies.
[34:30] An appetite for tweed.
[36:40] Historical contingency.
[43:40] A.J.P. Taylor reading for beginners and counterfactual history.
[46:41] Dan Carlin, Elon Musk, and Gavrilo Princip.
[48:39] What Niall gets out of digging deep into historical correspondence.
[54:04] Cold War II — what can we do?
[1:10:44] Keeping Cold War II from heating up into World War III.
[1:16:37] Economic interdependence does not preclude conflict.
[1:20:02] Ways Niall is using his grasp of history to change the world for the better.
[1:26:11] How Niall's toolkit for enacting change has evolved over the years.
[1:28:55] Thoughts on fatherhood.
[1:36:15] Why someone raised as an atheist takes his kids to church.
[1:42:42] Has marriage to ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali changed Niall's view of Western philosophy?
[1:46:22] Life under fatwa.
[1:51:00] Parting thoughts.
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