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Niall Ferguson

Historian, Writer, Broadcaster & Harvard Professor

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard. 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. 

Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

Presentations

History’s Hidden Networks
Networks are the key to history. The greatest innovators have been ‘superhubs’ of connections. The most powerful states, empires and companies have been those with the most densely networked structures. And the most transformative ideas – from the printing presses that launched the Reformation to the Freemasonry that inspired the American Revolution – have gone viral precisely because of the networks within which they spread. ‘When we understand these core insights of network science,’ says Ferguson, ‘the entire history of mankind looks quite different.’ Join us to discover a new kind of history and a new way of understanding how our future might unfold.

Business Empires: How Big Companies Rise and Fall

Globalization: Past, Present and Possible Futures

Those With Guns and Those Who Dig: The World Economy After the Crisis

The Ascent and Descent of Money: What Went Wrong with Western Finance?
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.

Platform Plus

Panelist/In Conversation

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 is the author of 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 a Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000.

In 2003 Ferguson wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4, the UK 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, as well as the Handelszeitung Economics Book Prize. In 2011 he published Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a Channel 4/PBS documentary series. A year later came the three-part television series “China: Triumph and Turmoil.” The book based on his 2012 BBC Reith lectures, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, was a New York Times bestseller within a week of its publication.

An accomplished biographer, Ferguson published High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg in 2010 and is currently writing a life of Henry Kissinger, the first volume of which has just been published—to critical acclaim—as Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist. In 2011 his film company Chimerica Media released its first feature-length documentary, “Kissinger”, which won the New York Film Festival’s prize for Best Documentary.

Ferguson was the Philippe Roman Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics in 2010-11. He is a member of the board of trustees of the American Academy in Berlin and the New York Historical Society. His many prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).

In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, he is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, a Cambridge-based advisory firm. He also serves on the board of Affiliated Managers Group.

Niall Ferguson is married to the author and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He has four children.