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


The Iowa Factor

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, February 1, 2016

It’s Iowa time. Every four years everyone has to pay attention to little old Iowa, because since the early 1970s its caucuses have constituted the first real action of the presidential race. Until now, we’ve had only TV debates and polls. Now real voters get to cast real votes.

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Poorer, Yes. But Wiser?

by Niall Fergusonvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Political regimes in Greece used to be nasty, brutish, and short-lived. Has the country grown up at last?


The Mood Of Davos Turns Out To Be Quite Wrong

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, January 25, 2016

“It’s a bit like reliving your college years, but with each year compressed into a day.” That was how one of my friends summed up the Davos World Economic Forum last week. “On Day One, you are a frisky freshman. There isn’t an invitation you don’t accept. But by Day Four, you are ready to graduate and return to the real world.”

middle east
Analysis and Commentary

Come And Have A Go At Cecil’s Statue If You Think You’re Hard Enough

by Niall Fergusonvia The Sunday TImes
Wednesday, January 20, 2016

[Subscription Required] As a general rule, I am against iconoclasm. People who want to tear down ancient monuments are rarely nice. They are the kind of person who also enjoys burning books they disagree with, and sometimes people they disagree with.


‘War And Peace’ Today

by Niall Fergusonquoting Abbas Milanivia Boston Globe
Monday, January 11, 2016

There can never be too many adaptations of “War and Peace,” the greatest novel ever written. I therefore welcome the BBC’s new six-part series soon to air in the United States. For me, however, it is no mere substitute for “Downton Abbey.” Its themes are far more profound, and more urgent.

Federal Reserve

The Fed Has Awakened The Force, But Beware The Dark Side

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, December 21, 2015

The Force awakens. For the first time since the financial crisis — for the first time, indeed, since June 2006 — the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates.

Analysis and Commentary

Ageing White America Is Sick, Like The Rabid Rantings Of Its Hero Trump

by Niall Fergusonvia The Sunday TImes
Sunday, December 13, 2015

[Subscription Required] Maybe last week wasn’t the week to start watching Amazon’s dazzling new screen adaptation of Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Or maybe it was.

Analysis and Commentary

Labelling The ISIS Killers As Fascists Only Makes It Harder To Defeat Them

by Niall Fergusonvia The Sunday TImes
Sunday, December 6, 2015

[Subscription Required] ‘We are here faced by fascists,” declared Hilary Benn in the House of Commons on Wednesday, referring to Isis. It was a stirring speech and a welcome reminder that, in the 1930s, there were many on the British left who opposed appeasement. But as historical analysis, Benn’s speech was wrong.

Analysis and Commentary

Student Protesters More Akin To Puritans

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, November 30, 2015

While the world has been gripped by epoch-making events — from jihadist massacres in Paris to downed warplanes in Syria — American universities have been gripped by events that are better described as emoji-making.


We Face A Three-Headed Monster

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, November 23, 2015

It is usual for horror to be followed by hysteria. The unusual thing about the Paris massacre on Nov. 13 is that the most hysterical reactions have been thousands of miles from the scene of carnage.