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The world has gone through a tough time with the COVID-19 pandemic. Every catastrophic event is unique, but there are certain commonalities to how such crises play out in our modern interconnected world. Historian Niall Ferguson wrote a book from a couple of years ago, The Square and the Tower, that considered how an interplay between networks and hierarchies has shaped the history of the world. This analysis is directly relevant to how we deal with large-scale catastrophes, which is the subject of his new book, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. We talk about global culture as a complex system, and what it means for our ability to respond to crisis.
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Niall Ferguson received his D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford. He is currently the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is the author of numerous book, several of which have been adapted into television documentaries, and has helped found several different companies. He won an international Emmy for his PBS series The Ascent of Money, and has previously been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.