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Niall Ferguson On What History Can Teach Us About Covid-19

Historian Niall Ferguson set out his thinking on the greatest crisis in modern times, in conversation with Rana Mitter

Sometimes it’s the consequences of disasters that are bigger than the disasters themselves. – Niall Ferguson

There are few big thinkers better placed to explain the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic than historian Niall Ferguson. In addition to his profound understanding of past crises, since early March he has been meticulously collating and analysing data about the one we are facing now – tracking how the pandemic began, how we got to where we are today and extrapolating what the future is likely to hold. In this special Intelligence Squared+ online event Ferguson will tackle the most pressing questions we all want answers to. Which of the world’s governments got their reaction to the virus right – those with the more or the less stringent measures? What chances are there of a strong economic recovery in the foreseeable future? Will we find a vaccine soon and enter the ‘post-Covid world’ or are we likely to be living (and dying) with the virus for years to come? Will tensions between China and the US escalate still further, leading us into a Cold War II?

The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson is available to order from Waterstones.



Niall Ferguson

One of the UK’s most renowned historians, based at Stanford University

One of the UK’s most renowned historians. He is Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is the author of fifteen books, including The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. He writes a syndicated weekly column, which appears in The Sunday Times, The Boston Globe and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and he is the founder and managing director of the advisory firm Greenmantle LLC. His most recent book, The Square and the Tower, is a New York Times bestseller. In March 2020, a three-part television adaptation, Niall Ferguson’s Networld, was released on PBS.

Rana Mitter

Historian, author and broadcaster

Historian, author and broadcaster. He is director of the University China Centre at the University of Oxford, where he is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China. His new book, China's Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism, will be published in September this year. He is a regular presenter of the arts and ideas programme Free Thinking on BBC Radio 3.


Speakers are subject to change.