“We Rarely Get the Disaster We Expect”

I disagree with the reviewer quoted below on much that is in his review. I have chosen to quote passages that emphasize what I think is interesting and promising in the book.

If Ferguson is right that “we rarely get the disaster we expect,” then we might be better off growing our general capabilities, rather than invest huge taxpayer funds in preparing for the wrong specific disaster. The best way to grow our general capabilities is to defend an economic system of innovative dynamism.

(p. 16) Niall Ferguson is, in many ways, a historian of the old school. He was trained in the history of business and finance, but over the past two decades his interests have broadened.

. . .

Ferguson’s latest book, “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe,” . . . [seems] to wave away concerns about climate change . . . in favor of extended speculation about “Black Swan” and “Dragon King” events that defy efforts at prediction? His bewildering answer is that “we rarely get the disaster we expect, but some other threat most of us are currently ignoring.”

. . .

“Doom” is often insightful, productively provocative and downright brilliant.

For the full review, see:

Damon Linker. “Catastrophe Is Coming.” The New York Times Book Review (Sunday, May 16, 2021 [sic]): 16.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 4, 2021 [sic], and has the title “Niall Ferguson Examines Disasters of the Past and Disasters Still to Come.”)

The book under review is:

Ferguson, Niall. Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. New York: Penguin Press, 2021.

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