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The Origins of Political Order: From…

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French… (2011)

by Francis Fukuyama (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4151225,597 (4.27)16
  1. 00
    The History of Government from the Earliest Times by S. E. Finer (jcbrunner)
    jcbrunner: A much deeper and reflected treatment of what Fukuyama's title indicated what he would cover.
  2. 00
    War in Human Civilization by Azar Gat (jcbrunner)
    jcbrunner: Gat covers Fukuyama's Part 1 better and with authority. It is not a pop-corn book, though. His academic style is not for the faint-hearted.
  3. 00
    Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris (jcbrunner)
    jcbrunner: Ian Morris' entertaining book is fact-based and not riddled with errors.
  4. 02
    The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas L. Friedman (geoffreymeadows)

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» See also 16 mentions

English (10)  Dutch (2)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Francis Fukuyama, unfortunately, is still widely known for his mistakes - and they are big ones - proclaiming the 'end of history' of the 1990s, and his influence in Neoconservatism and the disastrous military adventures of imperialism which resulted from it.

Fortunately for all, he has drifted away from that, and has now released a timely and remarkably observant book about the history and formation of states and political entities, in this particularly uncertain political climate. Political entities are inherently conservative, resisting progress. We're not as far gone as pre-Revolutionary France, but unless certain extreme anti-statist trends are stopped, the United States could slide further and faster from its position at the top.

He covers a broad sweep of history, starting from our distant hominid ancestors and working his way up through ancient China, India, the Middle East, and Europe, comparing and contrasting various trends the whole way. The narrative is thick with historical facts, covering much, and still managing to be very clear.

Furthermore, he states that political order/government is a necessary component of our lives, and that many are only too ignorant of the benefits of it. For an example of libertarian ideas in action, one only need to look at sub-Saharan Africa for that unparalleled success.

A very interesting book - but one that lacks some analysis of more modern eras, particularly of more authoritarian states and a comparison to liberal democracies. That is most likely left to the second volume, which I am waiting for eagerly. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
An entertaining political scientists' view of political development up to immediately before the French and American Revolutions. Hard to encapsulate in a few words. Beware of patrimonial systems, in which power is inherited. (Canadians note this before you vote for Trudeau Jr.) Beware of institutions which cannot change with the times. Representative government is a rare beast indeed. I enjoyed the book for a fresh romp through a lot of history, from a particular point of view. ( )
  RobertP | Jun 20, 2012 |
This book gives a broad historical overview of various ways in which political structure has developed in human societies, and tries to explain the reasons for the wide differences that have emerged.

There is a whole lot that I liked about the book, I learned a lot from it, and I would recommend it strongly to non-specialist readers, which includes me. As an economist who has always loved history, I've spent lots more time thinking about the economic and social influences on history (and of history) than about the political process per se. Reading this book was like taking the kaleidoscope of history, giving it a good shake, and seeing multiple unexpected patterns emerge. Fukuyama begins even before humanity emerged, with primate social ordering; a key step in that it underlines the biological "hard wired" impact on some of the determinants of political behavior. He proceeds to look at political development in some but not all of the world's great cultures -- China, India, the Muslim world (some of it, anyway) and Europe. The cross cultural approach is very enlightening: I'm old enough to have learned history as "Whig History", and looking across cultures teaches much, much more.

One thing that was particularly valuable to me is Fukuyama's convincing demonstration that it is not always the economy, stupid: indeed, the economy often doesn't have much to do with it. In the field of economics, much progress has been made in challenging the assumption of "homo economicus" -- the rational individual who always proceeds on the basis of rational self interest. This needs to be done in history as well, and Fukuyama brings out the importance of totally non- economic motivations, including family feeling, religion, and the desire for respect. In the end of the book, the author presents some conclusions; one assumes that these will be more fully fleshed out in Volume 2, which I look forward to reading.

Specialist readers may not be nearly so impressed, if at least one of the reviews below is representative. Before I read this book I did think of Fukuyama mainly as the neo-conservative who argued that political development had reached its end point in American democracy, which did seem a bit Whiggish (or tendentious) to me. This book very much improved my opinion of Fukuyama, but there is still some tendency to regard American democracy as the end state. We shall see -- ( )
  annbury | May 19, 2012 |
I liked this book. I found it easy to read and fascinating. One thing I liked was his approach of presenting his overall theory at the end of the book instead of the more common approach of starting with the theory. If knowledge is organized information, he has served us well by presenting the information first.

I especially liked the discussion of religion -- not that I agreed with all of it, but it was thought-provoking. I reflected on the difference between China, where religion as ancestor worship left it entirely in the personal realm, and the U.S. where politics and religion are more closely linked.

I also reflected on our First Nations. Aboriginals in Canada are still organized largely on a tribal basis. This creates enormous problems of governance on reserve, with different families or close-knit groups coming into/out of power every two years or so. This is largely a result of the Indian Act rules. Gordon Gibson of the Fraser Institute, among others, argues that policy should focus more on the individual and less on the tribe. The AFN and most band chiefs are strongly opposed. How to best support individulas while respecting culture and collective rights has been a policy challenge for decades. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 3, 2012 |
Fantastic book putting in perspective a large picture - loved the human condition and the development of the body politic from so many other perspectives. china, ottoman, india, europe and the influence of the significant players- the macro. Cant wait for the post french revolution. - need a aide memiore to keep it all arrange in the head.
  Brumby18 | Feb 13, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Endlessly interesting—reminiscent at turns of Oswald Spengler, Stanislaw Andreski and Samuel Huntington, though less pessimistic and much better written.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 15, 2011)

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Middleworth, BethCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374227349, Hardcover)

Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today’s basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.

Drawing on a vast body of knowledge—history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics—Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Francis Fukuyama examines the paths that different societies have taken to reach their current forms of political order.

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