Latest Issue

History and human nature

Niall Ferguson's "punk Gibbon" account of the horrors of the 20th century is enjoyable—until his semi-educated foray into evolutionary psychology

By Nicholas Humphrey   September 2006

The War of the World by Niall Ferguson (Allen Lane, £25)

Writing in response to Germany’s invasion of Belgium in 1914, James Barr, a physician and former president of the British Medical Association, had this to say: “The German Kultur must be exterminated, and this savage breed as far as possible wiped out… Germany has produced no genius, there is no scope for individualism, her work is the collective wisdom of commonplace savants, she has never produced nor is ever likely to produce a super-man… The Allies have shown their manhood and the capacity to rule, we must therefore… raise…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect