Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

Penguin Pr. May 2021. 496p. ISBN 9780593297377. $30. HIST
Historian Ferguson (Civilization) turns his analytical mind to catastrophes and disasters worldwide, in this latest work. The book focuses on global events ranging from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, to earthquakes, pandemics, and volcanic eruptions. Examining both natural and man-made disasters, Ferguson offers a general theory of catastrophes from a multidisciplinary perspective that spans economics, network science, statistics, and other areas. He argues that as society has grown more complex, humankind has become more fragile and hence less able to handle disasters. Like his other works, Doom is well-researched, well-argued, and all-encompassing. Ferguson uses the depth and breadth of his knowledge to cogently argue for a new understanding of catastrophic events.
VERDICT A book reminiscent of William H. McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples, Ferguson’s new title is a much-needed book on an important and pressing subject. Ferguson provides ample support for his arguments, uses an interdisciplinary approach, and offers new insights and revelations. An exemplary and thought-provoking work from a renowned author that will not disappoint.
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