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Comment: Condition: Very good condition., Very good dust jacket, in mylar cover. Binding: Hardcover. / Edition: First Edition, 1st Printing Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Pub. Date: 2011-04-12 Attributes: Book, 608 pp / Illustrations: B&W Illustrations maps Stock#: 2056837 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution Hardcover – April 12, 2011


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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution + Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty + Capital in the Twenty-First Century
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374227349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374227340
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The evolving tension between private and public animates this magisterial history of the state. In his hominids-to-guillotines chronicle of humanity's attempts to build strong, accountable governments that adhere to the rule of law, international relations scholar Fukuyama (The End of History) advances two themes: the effort to create an impersonal state free from family and tribal allegiances, and the struggle—often violent—against wealthy elites who capture the state and block critical reforms. Fukuyama's multifaceted comparative approach grounds politics and government in the demands of biology, geography, war, and economics, and pays appropriately lavish attention to China (he styles the Qin Dynasty of 221 B.C.E. the world's first modern state), India, and the Islamic countries. A neo-Hegelian, he's especially trenchant on the importance of ideology—especially religious beliefs—as an autonomous instigator of social and political change. (He cogently ascribes Europe's distinctively individualistic culture to the medieval Catholic Church's "assault on kinship.") Fukuyama writes a crystalline prose that balances engaging erudition with incisive analysis. As germane to the turmoil in Afghanistan as it is to today's congressional battles, this is that rare work of history with up-to-the-minute relevance. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Political theorist Fukuyama presents nothing less than a unified theory of state formation, a comparative study of how tribally organized societies in various parts of the world and various moments in history have transformed into societies with political systems and institutions and, in some cases, political accountability. Drawing upon a diverse range of sources—sociobiology and anthropology as well as macroeconomics and legal history—and paying particular attention to political development in Asia, Fukuyama describes a somewhat evolutionary mechanism wherein political systems develop in response to certain societal conditions and become institutionalized because of, among other things, their ability to adapt. Very much a continuation of his former teacher Samuel Huntington’s interest in political decay, this wide-ranging and frequently provocative work also carries the mantel of the great nineteenth-century sociologists, who addressed many of the same questions. Though Fukuyama hints at his theory’s relevance to present-day political challenges, readers seeking commentary on anything more recent than the French Revolution will need to be patient; this is volume 1 of 2. --Brendan Driscoll

More About the Author

Francis Fukuyama is Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), resident in FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on issues relating to questions concerning democratization and international political economy. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, was published by Free Press in 1992 and has appeared in over twenty foreign editions. His most recent books are America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States. His latest book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution will be published in April 2011.

Francis Fukuyama received his B.A. from Cornell University in classics, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in Political Science. He was a member of the Political Science Department of the RAND Corporation from 1979-1980, then again from 1983-89, and from 1995-96. In 1981-82 and in 1989 he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US Department of State, the first time as a regular member specializing in Middle East affairs, and then as Deputy Director for European political-military affairs. In 1981-82 he was also a member of the US delegation to the Egyptian-Israeli talks on Palestinian autonomy. From 1996-2000 he was Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University, and from 2001-2010 he was Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He served as a member of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001-2004.

Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), and Kansai University (Japan). He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation, the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and member of the advisory boards for the Journal of Democracy, the Inter-American Dialogue, and The New America Foundation. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Pacific Council for International Affairs. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

March 2011

Customer Reviews

This is a must read for any serious student of history or political science.
Michael Legge
From the outset it should be said that Fukuyama's work seeks to update Samuel Huntington's book, Political Order in Changing Societies.
A. Joseph Lynch
In spite of Fukuyama's readable style and engaging content, this book is academic and dense.
Justin Hyde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

213 of 232 people found the following review helpful By Justin Hyde on April 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since publishing his essay "The End of History?" in The National in 1989, Fukuyama has cemented himself as an important public intellectual and historical anthropologist. A former neo-conservative, Fukuyama, 58, now serves as the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

In this book, Fukuyama attempts to understand how humans moved from tribal and familial connections to organized institutions of states and governments. He writes, "In the developed world, we take the existence of government so much for granted that we sometimes forget how difficult it was to create."

Fukuyama artfully navigates the transition of humans from hunter-gather bands to tribalized communities to states and organized forms of government. Fukuyama emphasizes China because the Qin Dynasty was the first "state" to gain victory over tribalism. He contrasts this with Europe, which did not overcome tribalism until 1000 years later, and had to progress through feudalism before creating citizens loyal to the state.

Fukuyama's approach to historical anthropology stands in stark contrast to the "single cause" approach of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (2005). Fukuyama points to familial connections, human behavior, organized religion, and the human propensity for war as variable causes to the evolution of societies. Fukuyama engages disciplines outside of his usual realm including anthropology, economics, and biology. He notes, "It does seem to me that there is a virtue in looking across time and space in a comparative fashion.
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Origins of Political Order is an engaging read for anyone willing to grant the author license to do some old school multidisciplinary broad-scope theorizing on a hugely important question: What are the origins of political order? Why did key political institutions -- a centralized state with a monopoly on the use of force, enforcement of legal norms by third parties, and accountability of the state to outside forces -- develop in some places and not others?

The real standard for evaluating this kind of book, a work in the world-historical Guns, Germs, and Steel genre, is not whether the author gets details wrong, or misconstrues some of the theories or cultures he discusses. This is inevitable. No one can be an expert in biology, the history of China, cultural anthropology, primate behavior, and legal history. But as Fukuyama correctly argues, that the task is necessarily imperfect and difficult doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile. The standard for success is whether the necessarily imperfect effort nonetheless tells us something new and interesting. And Fukuyama succeeds on this metric.

Fukuyama abolishes any doubts the reader might harbor about political development as separate from economic or social development, and destroys any notion the reader might have that political order is somehow automatic or natural. Fukuyama will persuade you that political order is instead fragile and contingent. And he'll do it while taking you on a fascinating tour of the history of several different nations as well as the history of humans as a species. You'll learn about geography, primate behavior, and religion. Indeed, the pages are brimming with interesting theories on the various sub-topics that make up the volume, each of which could form its own PhD project.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lou on September 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book, and I enjoyed it. My background is in Biology so I studied in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. I enjoyed languages, so I also studied in French and Spanish, and I really enjoyed reading for pleasure, so I studied American, French, Chinese and English Literature. As I am getting older, I am beginning to realize that I basically only have a high school level understanding of History, so my present goal is to fill in the gaps and catch up a bit. This was my first book on Political History, so I'm not sure my comments will be all that helpful to people who are more familiar with the subject.

My general criticisms would be 1) the figures are not worth including in the book as they are currently presented, and 2) the prose often does not flow very well, so the meaning of many sentences is obscured.

In Natural Science textbooks figures are an essential explanatory feature: they are usually well conceived and constructed, detailed and clear. I find the figures in this book to be so simple to the point of being beside the point or their meaning too vague to be worthwhile including. A few words in boxes do not an explanation make. Either make the figures more dynamic and understandable (i.e. useful on a first read), explain them well via the text, or don't bother including them.

While the flow of writing is generally good, there are sentences that I had to read over and over again in order to understand them: have a good proof reader, not in your field of expertise, read the final draft in order to modify sentences that don't make a lot of sense on first or second reading.
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