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The End of History and the Last Man Hardcover – January 31, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

History is directional, and its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy, asserts Fukuyama, former U.S. State Department planner. In a broad, ambitious work of political philosophy, he identifies two prime forces that supposedly push all societies toward this evolutionary goal. The first is modern natural science (with its handmaiden, technology), which creates homogenous cultures. The second motor of history (which the author borrows from Hegel) is the desire for recognition, driving innovation and personal achievement. Fukuyama's main worry seems to be whether, in the coming of what he considers a capitalist utopia, we will all become complacently self-absorbed "last men" or instead revert to "first men" engaged in bloody, pointless battles. Several of the countries that he christens capitalist liberal democracies--Turkey, the nations of South America--are in fact either oligarchies or police states, and his contention that liberal democracies do not behave imperialistically flies in the face of world and U.S. history. Nevertheless, this self-congratulatory book will probably be popular and widely discussed, like Fukuyama's 1989 National Interest essay, "The End of History?"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fukuyama, then deputy director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, first presented this thesis in the foreign policy journal National Interest (Summer 1989), where it attracted worldwide attention. He argues that there is a positive direction to current history, demonstrated by the collapse of authoritarian regimes of right and left and their replacement (in many but not all cases) by liberal governments. "A true global culture has emerged, centering around technologically driven economic growth and the capitalist social relations necessary to produce and sustain it." In the absence of viable alternatives to liberalism, history, conceived of as the clash of political ideologies, is at an end. We face instead the question of how to forge a rational global order that can accommodate humanity's restless desire for recognition without a return to chaos. Fukuyama's views conveniently present the international politics of the present administration. History disappears very early on in the narrative, to be replaced by abstract philosophy. This essay made into a book is pretentious and overblown, though it offers some grounds for speculation. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/91.
- David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (January 31, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029109752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029109755
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

275 of 301 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Steele on June 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
After 9-11, it became easy to make fun of "The End of History and The Last Man". The book's title suggested to some a triumphant valedictory for liberal democracy, and yet the epitome of liberal democratic values -- the West -- was now mired in another seemingly endless struggle. Especially for those who never read the work, the phrase "the end of history" became something one only said with scorn. Cynics felt obligated to point out that one more philosophy of the world had fallen into the meat grinder of history, never to be seen again.
But this book still has relevance in the post 9-11 world. Despite the vulgarization of its title, Fukuyama did not predict an end to conflict. What's more, he also did not cast the future in an unremittingly optimistic light. In some ways his themes -- particularly in the second half of the book when he focuses on the Nietzschean concept of The Last Man -- are decidedly darker than even keen reviewers of the work have noted. Liberal democracy may have triumphed, but its victory had costs for the collective psyche of its denizens.
"The End of History and The Last Man" came out in the wake of the fall and breakup of the Soviet Union. With the collapse of global communism, Fukuyama claimed the fundamental values of liberal democracy and market capitalism were now unchallenged. What's more, no other ideologies on the horizon appeared attractive or effective enough to usurp them -- ever. Yes, some countries or regions might fall under the sway of an ideology (Islamic fundamentalism) or a cultural conceit (Asian values), but too much of the globe now accepted that societies should be organized under the principles of liberal democracy and market capitalism for there ever to be a major reversal in its fortunes around the world.
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107 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Stacey M Jones on September 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The End of History and the Last Man" by Francis Fukuyama has an apocalyptic-looking cover and a title that needs explication. But the book is not a doomsday scenario, quite the contrary, as the explanation of the title will show.
Fukuyama, who is Bernard Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, published this work of political philosophy in 1992, and in it, he explains in a logical, well-considered progression why he believes that liberal democracy is the final resting point of progressive history, but that that very liberal democracy can render humanity as less than what it could be - comfort seeking, self-involved, "men without chests."
The book, which could be subtitled "I Love Hegel and Why You Should, Too," builds on Hegel's idea that there is a Universal, progressive History. This is to what Fukuyama is referring when he says that History has reached its end; he doesn't mean that nothing else will happen, but that the progression of History toward a universally beneficial system of government has culminated in liberal democracy. He defines liberalism - "Political liberalism can be defined simply as a rule of law that recognizes certain individual rights or freedoms from government control" and he defines those rights in three classes, civil rights, religious rights and political rights. He defines democracy as "the right held universally by all citizens to have a share of political power, that is, the right of all citizens to vote and participate in politics."
His concentration on Hegel arises from Fukuyama's contention that we've been very conditioned by Karl Marx's influence to believe that most social and political problems come from economic and class differences.
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82 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Ernesto Yattah ( on May 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
The End Of History And The Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama: A Review
It is seldom that one comes across a book which can hold us spellbound from beginning to end. But this is the case of this masterpiece by Fukuyama. In this book, Fukuyama proposes a return to Hegel's historiosophical concept of a Universal History which has a clear direction, purpose and progress. After having passed through many stages of development, history has finally come to its end. This, of course, does not mean that time has come to an end. Life and death will continue, the season of the year and the passage of the decades go forward. But history is a particular process in which we witness specific changes in the political organization and cultural arrangements of human societies. This process seems to evolve in accordance with specific laws, such as the expansion of the levels of human freedom. The liberal democracies developed in the modern times are the culmination of such a process, because they embody the fullness of the ideal of human freedom. Sure, there are adjustments which can be made to perfect particular democracies, but the concept itself of democracy as the self-determination of peoples cannot be improved upon. Hence, history has reached its end, its goal.
Fukuyama brilliantly developes throughout the book the theme of Plato's tripartite division of the human soul into reason, passion and desire, and its consequences for political science. Political systems are reflections of human yearnings, the attempt of human beings to give full expression to their own humanness. What ultimately matters is how a particular society balances these three elements of human nature.
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