The cover of The Square and the Tower

The Square and the Tower

Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook

by Niall Ferguson

The Square and the Tower is a history of networks. It begins with the Illuminati and ends with Trump’s election; in between, networks rise and fall in a constant churn. Ferguson combines his own original research with piles of other analyses to paint a picture of the conditions that enable networks or hierarchies to prevail.

It was a little slow getting through the early history of networks, since hierarchies easily prevail when the spread of information can be controlled. I got really into the book as it started covering the 70s in the United States. It turns out Henry Kissinger’s networks were the source of much of the diplomacy happening in that decade; Ferguson’s diagrams of these networks are really neat.