Niall Ferguson asks why it was that Western civilization, from inauspicious roots in the 15th century, came to dominate the rest of the world; and if the West is about to be overtaken by the rest.
Ferguson reveals the 'killer apps' of the West's success - competition, science, the property owning democracy, modern medicine, the consumer society and the Protestant work ethic - the real explanation of how, for five centuries, a clear minority of mankind managed to secure the lion's share of the earth's resources.
Ferguson's conclusions are surprising and provocative. He reveals that while the killer apps have finally been downloaded by the rest, in the process Western civilization has lost faith in itself. And it is that loss of self-belief that poses the biggest threat to its continued predominance.