Thursday, February 24, 2011

Niall Ferguson Profile

"Something that's seldom appreciated about me," he declares, "is that I am in sympathy with a great deal of what Marx wrote, except that I'm on the side of the bourgeoisie."

Niall Ferguson

It never ceases to amaze me how many historians, whether from the right or the left, can be so brilliantly dumb. Reading Ferguson is like reading a mirror image of Eric Hobsbawm. Brilliant insights about the ambiguities of history line up on the page right next to the most simple-minded drivel. All the aspects, both good and bad, of this fascinatingly wrongheaded historian are on display in this wonderful profile. Ferg comes across as intelligent, fearsomely hard-working, a true believer, awesomely hypocritical, and not a little self-loathing.

PS. On aldaily today, there is a hagiography disguised as a review of something or other by Eric Hobsbawm by Terry Eagleton right next to the Ferguson profile. I have a lot of respect for Hobsbawm (mixed with the same exasperation I feel for Niall Ferguson), but if I had to give an award for the world's most annoying literary critic, I'm pretty sure Eagleton would have gotten it five years running by now.

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