Doom. The Politics of Catastrophe


Disasters are inherently hard to predict, but, when they do strike, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted, or medieval Britons when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all.

Yet the world failed to contain a new plague in 2020 and failed to avoid a war in 2022. Why? While populist leaders certainly performed poorly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work—pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters.

Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics, cliodynamics, and network science, Doom offers not just a history but a general theory of disasters, showing why our evermore bureaucratic and complex systems are getting worse at handling them. It’s a lesson that this country—indeed, the West as a whole—urgently needs to learn, if we want to handle the next crisis better, and avoid the ultimate doom of irreversible decline.



Penguin Press




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