Niall Ferguson

Senior Fellow

Niall Ferguson, Hoover senior fellow, is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and a noted author.

Ferguson's books include The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (2010), High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010), and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Penguin, 2008). His first book, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897–1927 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award; the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (Macmillan, 1997), was a best seller in the United Kingdom.

In 1998 he published, to international critical acclaim, The Pity of War: Explaining World War One (Basic Books) and The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild (Penguin). 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 he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700–2000 (Basic), the product of a year as Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England.

His books have been translated and published in numerous countries, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Taiwan.

He is a regular contributor to television and radio. In 2003 he wrote and presented six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4 n the United Kingdom. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (Basic), was a best seller in both Britain and the United States. He also wrote and presented the two-hour film American Colossus, broadcast in the UK in 2004.

He has just completed a six-part history of the twentieth century, The War of the World, to be broadcast in the UK in 2006.

A prolific commentator on contemporary politics, he writes and reviews regularly for the British and American press. He and his family divide their time between the United States and the United Kingdom.

He is the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for public service (2010).

Born in Glasgow in 1964, Niall Ferguson was awarded a Demyship (half-fellowship) for his academic achievements by Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1981 and graduated with First Class Honours in 1985. After two years as a Hanseatic Scholar in Hamburg and Berlin, he took up a research fellowship at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1989, subsequently moving to a lectureship at Peterhouse. He taught for more than a decade at Jesus College, Oxford, and was then Herzog Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University, before moving to Harvard in 2004.

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Recent Commentary


Alexander And Charles

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Sunday, April 24, 2016

"You like tomayto, and I like tomahto,” crooned Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers in the 1937 caper Shall We Dance. I had always unthinkingly assumed this was a song about the differences in pronunciation between American and British English. But of course it’s not. Rogers was born in Missouri, while Astaire hailed from Nebraska.

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Reading Tolstoy in Tehran

by Niall Fergusonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 18, 2016

Today, War and Peace would be set in Iran, with its oppression, tumult, and sense that everything must change. 


Brexit’s Happy Morons Don’t Give A Damn About The Costs Of Leaving

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Sunday, April 17, 2016

When I was a little boy, my mother liked to quote the following quatrain (sometimes attributed to the New York wit Dorothy Parker): “See the happy moron, / He doesn’t give a damn, / I wish I were a moron, / My God! Perhaps I am!”

Analysis and Commentary

From TrusTed To ElecTed

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, April 11, 2016

I cannot imagine Ted Cruz as president of the United States. Despite his emphatic defeat of Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary. Despite the ever-louder chorus of voices saying he is the only man who can deny Trump the Republican nomination.


Tay, Trump, and Artificial Stupidity

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, April 4, 2016

I have to admit that DeepMind’s AlphaGo computer had me worried when it trounced the world champion at the Chinese board game Go last month.


It Takes A Network To Defeat A Network

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, March 28, 2016

The word of the week has been “network.” I have lost track of the number of times I have read that a terrorist network carried out last Tuesday’s lethal attacks in Brussels. The same is now being said about Sunday’s massacre in Lahore. Terrorists used to belong to “groups” and “organizations.” Increasingly, however, we say they belong to networks.


The Rise Of Caveman Politics

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, March 21, 2016

In our time, women have been gaining political power as never before.


A ‘Catastrophe Of Epic Proportions’

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, March 14, 2016

There is a powerful symbolism in the impending collapse of Iraq’s Mosul dam. Built on the cheap by Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s, it holds back up to 2.9 trillion gallons, roughly twice as much as Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. We all know what happened when Hurricane Katrina breached the levees around Pontchartrain’s south shore in 2005.


Barack Obama’s Revolution In Foreign Policy

by Niall Fergusonvia The Atlantic
Sunday, March 13, 2016

When you think you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s tempting to make up your own grand strategy.


Is The US Having A Populist Moment?

by Niall Fergusonquoting Victor Davis Hansonvia Boston Globe
Monday, February 29, 2016

Panic is setting in. “Watching Donald Trump’s rise, I now understand … exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany,” writes my Harvard colleague, political theorist Danielle Allen.