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Showing 1-10 of 43 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 127 reviews
This is the book you must have read. The ideas are seminal. History may, in fact, have continued. Fukayama's ideas may, in fact, have proven wrong. Liberal democracy appears to be on the ropes at this writing. That does not detract from the value of what he wrote, and the lucidity of his presentation.
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on May 1, 2017
A deep an interesting analysis, which is still relevant after 25 years. All the processes marked in the book are still happening in front out own eyes.
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on September 4, 2017
Mr. Fukuyama has a view of history that is breathtaking and a joy to read. Even if you don't agree with his thesis you have to admire his ability to see the big picture.
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on June 18, 2017
A classic. Must be read.
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on August 21, 2017
Good quality from seller, but the book is flawed despite being compelling to think about.
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on December 19, 2012
Francis Fukuyama's thesis, if I read this book rightly, is that democracy and capitalism are the ultimate in political and economic systems for organizing human society. Democracy spreads power to the broadest base of humans in a given society and capitalism makes the most wealth available to the most people in any given society... or something like that. And thus we find ourselves at the end of history: What this means is that there is no further development possible which is what history is all about - progress toward the best possible economic and political structure for human life.

The idea of "history" is more complex than simply recounting the names and dates of various persons, nations and events. It has to do with a purposeful progression of events to a specific goal and once that goal is attained we find ourselves at the end of history and the last man. That doesn't mean there won't be more generations born and that there won't be any more events. It means that, in Fukuyama's case, that what is left is the implementation of democracy and capitalism for more and more of the worlds peoples.

The question is, "Is that really all there is to the human journey?" Is democracy and capitalism really the goal towards which the universe has been driving for billions of years?

For all intents and purposes, this book is Francis Fukuyama's eschatology! (Google it, or look it up in Wikipedia if you don't know what "eschatology" is). If you read this book, and I did find it a worthwhile thought provoking and readable read, then I recommend you read Jurgen Motmann's "The Coming God" to discover the background for western "eschatological" thinking, and for a different view on what the end of history may mean. I like Moltmann's vision way over Fukuyama's.
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on November 15, 2013
Whatever its shortcomings in the hindsight of two decades, this book remains a masterwork of synthesis in political history, economy, and philosophy. The empty, quantitative abstractions of what goes by the name of "political science" in the academy today is put to shame by this study of the political animal. Americans remain in need of the rectifying account of human nature and human desire given here, which addresses major shortcomings in the ideological assumptions inherited by our right-wing economic liberals and left-wing social liberals alike. On a personal note, I would add that this book is one of the few, along with Plato's Republic, that utterly changed my life, by provoking and awakening radically interesting questions. It sent me on a rewarding intellectual journey since into the history of philosophy and science, and I assure it will do the same for you, if you give it a chance despite its critics and seriously consider the whole of the argument.
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on November 2, 2002
First pardon any simplifications in this review and take all of the review as a simplification. This isn't a simple book. It took me many chapters to see where Francis Fukuyama was going with this book. In some ways I think he could have condensed the whole thing down and gotten to the points of his argument more clearly. Yet, in the end, I learned something that will allow me to have more insite into the human condition than before. This makes the book well worth the effort. One of the main points is that history has direction, in short: we get closer to a theoretical goal rather than just move through time doing things. I think he takes too many chapters in "proving" this but it is a basic foundation to the rest of the work. Another main point of the book is that democracy is the end of history. That in democracy society has found the best way to achieve the goal of history. What is the goal, a complex satisfaction of Thymos or, put way too simply, the ability to feel good about yourself. Now here I have a problem with thinking that this is the end of history simply because we haven't been at this stage long enough. I personally think that democracy came about because more people got more educated and we have along way to go in getting people educated. Therefor it is possible that a new system will be developed that will make democracy passe. The clarity I got out of this book was a language regarding human satisfaction that was better than I had before. It is complex, especially when you take it from one human to human society, but of great interest to anyone interested in knowing what can make things better. That's both in a macro ways, such as if you are Bill Gates or the President of the United States, or in micro ways such as if you are just running a small business or interacting with a circle of friends. All in all very, very well worth the time.
Bill
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on January 17, 2013
I read this book because it was so prominent in The Icarus Syndrome and because many of my friends were so impressed by it when they first read it. This is one of the most important tomes of the neo conservative movement. It should be noted that Fukuyama has looked back this work as flawed. He believes that Iraq was a huge mistake from which our country might very possibly not recover.
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on November 12, 2011
Toward the end of the Cold War, three very different books were published within five years of each other that sought to explain the likely contours of the inchoate new world order emerging from the implosion of the communist bloc: David Kennedy's "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" 1989); Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man" (1992); and Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of the Civilizations"(1994).

The second in this triumvirate is the deepest intellectually, one might even say profound, yet the most widely misunderstood and often ridiculed. The vast majority of critics, I'm convinced, never actually read the book, as Fukuyama's thesis is sober and thoughtful. Unlike Kennedy's thesis, which is based on relative economic growth rates, or Huntington's, which is rooted (I would argue) in cultural anthropology, Fukuyama's argument is built upon the foundation of modern western philosophy. For those, like me, who only have an armchair education in philosophy, "The End of History" will be both a primer on the basic tenets of liberal political theory and a compelling argument for the spread of both capitalism and democratic representative government.

Fukuyama's argument is direct, but cerebral, and fundamentally grounded in the political philosophy of early 19th century German philosopher Georg Hegel, and supported by the further interpretations of Hegel by fellow German Friedrich Nietzsche and the 20th century French-Russian philosopher Alexandre Kojeve.

At the dawn of the twenty first century, Fukuyama writes, there were two undeniable trends in global affairs: a movement toward market capitalism on the one hand, and a shift toward liberal democracy on the other. He notes that these two trends are not, at least superficially, mutually reinforcing. In fact, one could argue that they should naturally work against each other. After all, authoritarian regimes in East Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, China) have proven that dramatic, market-oriented economic growth does not rely on a liberal political order. Indeed, democracy may actually stymie the efficient allocation of central resources toward critical infrastructure projects. Fukuyama sees Hegel's "need for recognition" as the missing link tying liberal economics with liberal political democracy.

This book is broken into five parts. The first two provide a background on the philosophical argument behind "The End of History" as posited by both Hegel and Marx, who agreed on the basics but reached radically different conclusions on the end point. Fukuyama maintains that politics is more like natural science than art or literature - its trajectory is directional and cumulative, with each generation building upon the efforts of the past, unlike the more liberal arts whose value remains subjective across the ages. (e.g. Are paintings or architecture better today than in ancient Greece or fin-de-siecle France? Depends who you ask. Are we more advanced in physics than those societies? No doubt. Fukuyama claims government is more like physics than art.)

I found part three to be the most informative and fascinating. Fukuyama explains that part of the problem with Hegel's focus on "recognition" in political philosophy is that there is no one word in English that accurately captures the true meaning. Machiavelli spoke of "glory," Hobbes of "pride," Rousseau of "amour-propre," Hamilton of "fame," Madison of "ambition," and Nietzsche of "the beast with red cheeks." Fukuyama makes a strong case for Plato's Greek word "thymos," the same word and concept that Jonathan Shay uses to develop his convincing hypothesis on the nature of moral degeneration after close order combat in his brilliant piece "Achilles in Vietnam." In short, every man, no matter his station in life, has a natural sense of self-worth, of dignity, and when that sense of personal dignity is violated the reaction can be severe. When we don't live up to our own estimate of thymos we feel shame, and when we do we feel pride. And when someone else, especially those in positions of power or authority, fail to recognize our thymos we feel indignation (or, as Shay wrote about Achilles and soldiers in Vietnam, rage). Thus, a healthy political order needs to be more than a basic social contract between man and his government, exchanging some personal rights in exchange for the ability to acquire property (what the Founders referred to as "happiness"), a sort of mutual societal non-aggression pact. Rather, it must also somehow serve man's desire for recognition, of his dignity and worth.

In part four Fukuyama presents his central thesis of the desire for recognition as the motor of history, looking at the recent past and projecting into the future some of the different ways the desire for recognition will be manifest. He notes that it was present in the people who fought for greater representation in right-wing authoritarian regimes in the 1970s and 1980s (Spain, Greece, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, etc.) and against communist dictatorships at the end of the Cold War - and arguably what is driving the Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East. The governments rocked by pro-democracy movements span most continents and cultures, include nations that have experienced rapid economic growth and others that have been moribund for decades, and have sought to overthrow or dramatically reform regimes that range from the far left to the far right. The common denominator, Fukuyama argues, is that they failed to satisfy the collective thymos of their people, as only liberal democracy can do that.

The fifth and final chapter addresses the question of the "end of history," what the final end state looks like, the so called "last man," as liberal democracies wrestle with their inherent contradiction that they treat unequal people (i.e. based on talent and success) equally.

In closing, this is a marvelous, thought-provoking book that, in light of the Arab Spring (depending how that turns out), may come back into fashion nearly a generation after its initial publication. Huntington's "Clash of the Civilization" may still stand as the leading interpretation of the post Cold War international order, but "The End of History" is still very much in the race and gaining ground everyday.
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