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Niall Ferguson

'To attract an academic of such standing demonstrates LSE's pulling power in a fiercely competitive world. It will be a privilege to have Niall here.'
Prof Arne Westad

One of the most recognisable names in International History, in his time as Philippe Roman Chair Niall Ferguson explored how we understand what bought the Cold War to an end. 

How far was the outcome economically determined from the outset? Was Nixon’s detente with China, often seen as a moral comprisimise, actually the key? And how were the crucial breakthrough issues of nuclear weapons and human rights connected?

In addition to his lecture series, Professor Ferguson brought his expertise on Power Shifts from the rise of the West to the changing balance between West and East to LSE teaching, debates, and publications. 


The Political Economy of the Cold War

At its heart the Cold War was a competition between two economic systems. In his first lecture, Niall Ferguson compares and contrasts the United States and the Soviet Union and asks how far the outcome of the Cold War was economically determined from the outset.

In particular, what role did commercial and financial globalisation play in enhancing U.S. power in the world and how serious a threat did inflation pose to the United States in the 1970s?  

 View Slides / Watch / Listen:

The Third World’s War

The Cold War was waged partly through a series of proxy wars in Third World countries from Guatemala to Korea to Vietnam. Although a great deal of attention has been devoted to a select number of U.S. Interventions in the Third World, Niall Ferguson argues that we need to see the ‘Third World's War’ in perspective.

He explains how successful the Soviet Union was in pursuing a strategy of fomenting revolution and how consistently successive U.S. administrations behaved in response.

View Slides / Watch / Listen:

The Grand Strategy of Detene

'Nixon goes to China' shattered the façade of Communist unity and dug the United States out of the hole it found itself in at the end of the 1960s.

Critics have seen Nixon and Kissinger's policy as morally compromised, but Niall Ferguson asks if it was actually the key to America's victory in the Cold War? 

Watch / Listen:

Nuclear Arms & Human Rights

The decisive breakthroughs in the Cold War occurred in seemingly unrelated fields, nuclear arms control and human rights. 

Niall Ferguson asks what were the links between these two issues and which mattered more?

Watch / Listen:

Other Events

Out of Europe? The United States in an Asian Age 

Niall Ferguson took part in this debate with IDEAS co-directors Michael Cox and Arne Westad. Niall Ferguson argues that the world is now being shaped more by the emerging economies of the East than by the once dominant West. Is this true and what is the impact?



Professor Ferguson taught the seminar Western Ascendancy: The Mainsprings of Global Power from 1600 to the Present for LSE students. 

LSE Publications

During his time as Philippe Roman Chair, Professor Ferguson contributed pieces to two LSE publications. 

He wrote an article on the nature of global trends for the IDEAS Today magazine year in review issue, arguing China's rise is the biggest change in world history since 1500.

He was also interviewed for LSE Research magazine as part of a cover story on the myths and realities of Power Shifts from West to East, discussing 'Chinese Empire', Iraq, and the likelhood of future conflict. 

Niall FergusonAbout Niall Ferguson

Professor Ferguson is an academic historian, journalist and television presenter. He is Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a contributing editor of the Financial Times and a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. 

He is also William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

He has presented several television documentaries based on his books - the most recent being The Ascent of Money on Channel 4. After publishing Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire in 2004, Time magazine to name him one of the hundred most influential people in the world. 

Find out more on Niall Ferguson's website. 

IDEAS Today Issue 5