Very interesting book. It is pretty much what I expected it to be. The overall rating for my review is based on the way the author captures and explains in an informative way the history and story of politics.
For me this helped solidify in my mind the historical elements of politics and why it is important to study history.
Funny how many of the ills of society could probably be avoided today if more people (especially our political leaders) would study history for its pitfalls and greatness!!
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
I was introduced to Francis Fukuyama's book "The end of History and the Last Man" when I was studying second year Philosophy at university. While being very positive and optimistic about liberal democracy as the final and the best political system in the book (which was obviously an over confident stance), the book left a positive impression on me.
I bought this audio book to hear how Fukuyama's thought developed and to hear if he had any new insight into politics. He definitely has. Being careful of presenting a liberal democracy as the answer or the end of social evolution, Fukuyama starts with pre-human "societies" and other primates try to understand human behaviour and relationships in groups. From this he identifies the various building blocks of a successful state by taking the listener through history, using different countries as "case studies" in political order. The book is much more cautious than "The end of History and the Last Man" and it is not so American-centric. He even stays clear of a blatant Euro-centric understanding of political order. He starts of with China and uses different governments all over the world to explain why these governments are successful or not. He is able to convince the listener that certain building blocks lack in unsuccessful governments.
His second volume promise to be a contemporary analysis of political order in the world.
Fukuyama is very thorough in this study and includes a wide scope of disciplines to come to an intriguing analysis. However, I am not sure that a book like this lends itself well to be published as an audio book. It is very long and very detailed at places. Remember to download the pdf file that accompanies the book, otherwise you might struggle to follow what he says.
Jonathan Davis is a fair reader, but when you read the only joke and memory hook in the whole book as if it is just another fact, you've missed something of the author's intention.
If you are interested in political philosophy or economics this book might just be something for you. If however, you like short to the point discussions of such topics, stay away.
The reader's intonation was odd. I often had to pause to re-parse what he was saying. Phrases of sentences never seemed to fit together. Maybe he kept hitting pause and restart, leading to a jerky feel to the narration.
Content was interesting and sounded authoritative..
This may be a book that has to be read. I just could not listen to this book. Complex ideas, layered theses, and a constant influx of new names--combined with Davis's narration--left me rewinding over and over. Eventually, I gave up. My "story" rating is unfair, as I only got a few hours in. Davis's style is great in Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, but it does not match up well with Fukuyama's writing. In fairness, though, I'm not sure anyone else could do any better. Buy this one in print.
I enjoyed the breadth of countries that are covered in this work, which gave the theories a feeling of solidity.
There is only one.
I found the attempt to base the theory on evolutionary theory unnecassary and a step too far. He criticises people who do this as resorting to "just so" theories, then does it himself. Given the length of the book, it is easy to forget that section and let the rest stand alone.
I love nonfiction because there's always something useful in it. Even long bad sections normally don't detract from the gems of wisdom in a work of nonfiction. But if this one had any gems, I must have already been asleep when I got there. Mostly it's all vaguely stated and carefully hedged opinions with little categorical value.