I must say at the outset that I'm not a great fan of Ferguson, he's probably my least favourite neo conservative revisionist historian. Not that I have anything against right wing writers, I have a lot of respect for Andrew Roberts and yield to no man in my admiration for Max Hastings.
However, this latest opus is unavoidable and what utter nonsense it is. The idea that there were six features or "killer apps" (which I'll need to pick up later) which were unique to 'the west' and which enabled it to dominate the world is far too simplistic. You can pick so many holes in his argument it's unreal. Western work ethic? Have you seen how hard the Chinese work and have you ever tried to get anything done in Spain between 2 and 6pm? Yet Spain and Portugal amassed vast empires. The Indian's didn't have a competitive cotton industry, of course they didn't after the British East India Company destroyed it. As for the advances in medical science which 'doubled life expectancy' and were "exported to Africa" by the colonising western countries, please! Medical science in the west was little more than guesswork until the mid nineteenth century and life expectancy for colonised countries in Africa only went up after independence in the 50's and 60's.
It's true that western countries did start to dominate the globe from the 16th century but I think 'competition and property rights' is putting a bit of a shine on it. This level of domination was achieved largely through the ruthless application of superior military technology and a determination to accumulate wealth through, if necessary (and it was), mass murder and theft on a global scale.
Leaving aside the off-puttingly smug, sneering and bombastic presentation style of the TV programme I'd like to address the "killer app" issue. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Have you ever heard such a clunky and contrived attempt to sound trendy and 'modern'. Does anyone remember William Hague with a baseball cap on, hilarious.
For a more balanced and realistic take on how 'the west' came to triumph over 'the east' I can recommed Barnaby Rogerson's "The Last Crusaders".