- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (March 27, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374533229
- ISBN-13: 978-0374533229
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 204 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution Reprint Edition
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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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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The first volume ends with the American and French revolutions. The second volume, which I have not yet read, promises to describe political development subsequent to the Industrial Revolution. “The Origins of Political Order” is suitable for a general reader who has a solid grasp of Western history, but I do stress that one must already know their history. For me, it was a pleasure to read and I found it very insightful. I enjoyed the multidisciplinary approach and the quality of the writing. The book is very helpful in thinking critically about how and why the political institutions of the West developed as they did.
His work is a strong complement to that of Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel.
Fukuyama built a strong body of work showing that the order in which a country developed a rule of law and commenced state building determined the type of government that developed.
There is so much more to learn in this remarkably in-depth study of the world and our political systems. I can't recommend it high enough.
While this book can at places drag, for example in the detail given to specific Chinese dynasties, it contains much of interest for the person wanting to learn more about how this world operates.
Why do the political systems of Europe differ on either side of the Elbe? Why are most Latin American countries less than stable? Why is India, even though a democracy, not a strong state but China is? How did England and Denmark get to modern political systems? What holds back the Arabs?
While this book will not be confused with light reading, I think it quite understandable to the non-expert and certainly worth the effort for any one wishing to be better informed about the forces that have guided (or retarded) people in the structuring of better states within to live.