Joining the Niall Ferguson Pile-On

Galvin Plaza, Wangjing, Beijing
Watching the wires
0931 hrs.

If you haven’t read James Fallows‘ thoughtful deconstruction of Harvard professor Niall Ferguson‘s partisan Newsweek cover story “Obama’s Gotta Go,” read it now, regardless of your political preferences. In the piece, Fallows details two areas where Ferguson has been wrong – or just polemical – about China.

For further reading on this vein, check out the view from the other side of Harvard Yard, Ross Terrill‘s “The Case for Selective Failure” in The Wilson Quarterly (registration required,) and my critique of his take on China’s historical and future competitiveness in Silicon Hutong,How the East Will Rise.”

There are great lessons to be learned from some of those who observe China from afar, not least from Fallows. But those who have genuine insights to offer have paid in time, blood, and treasure for their wisdom. Instant China experts like Ferguson (take scholar, add two weeks in Beijing and Shanghai luxury hotels meeting with assorted locals, stir, and pour into nearest editorial page) on the other hand, need to be consumed with the kind of caution one brings to boxed wine.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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4 Responses to Joining the Niall Ferguson Pile-On

  1. Enoch says:

    Hey, boxed wine is getting pretty good! Ferguson, on the other hand….

  2. gregorylent says:

    hah, i disliked ferguson before disliking ferguson was cool. same with zakaria. and gladwell.


  3. R.S.S. says:

    You left out the most relevant ingredient for Instant Wisdom: a lifetime of steeping in tabloid journalism or its end product. Ferguson and his ilk have that in spades. And Newsweek, under new management has already turned into one.

  4. foarp says:

    Wasn’t Ferguson Bush Jr.’s favourite ‘historian’? Case closed.

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