Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions that 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 unable to function in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.
Francis Fukuyama, author of the best-selling 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.
©2011 Francis Fukuyama (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
“Political theorist Francis Fukuyama’s new book is a major accomplishment, likely to find its place among the works of seminal thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke, and modern moral philosophers and economists such as John Rawls and Amartya Sen . . .It is a perspective and a voice that can supply a thinker’s tonic for our current political maladies.” (Earl Pike, The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Ambitious and highly readable.” (The New Yorker)
Non-Fiction, Science, History and Business Reader
I have only good things to say about this book and it's narration. Fukuyama sets out to write a history of Political order and the developments of the core parts of the state and achieves this goal definitively.
I thought the pace was excellent, as was the narrative progression. It moved freely yet logically between the micro and the macro perspectives. It even manages aptly walk the line between too much and too little background information for the various topics, institutions and regions, which could not have been easy given the subject's breadth.
For me, this was one of the books that subtly adjust my understanding of not just the subject matter on the page, but also of a range of other areas and disciplines as well.
I HIghly recommend this book to anyone interested in Politics, History, or virtually any other area of Non-Fiction.
As life unfolds on our planet, I think it's important to remember that the human experience is, and always has been, an experiment in-progress. As with all experiments, there is no guarantee of success. Since 1947, the year I was born, the world has changed nearly beyond comprehension. Lately, I have wondered if things have developed more rapidly than our ability to manage them. If we can no longer effectively manage our ever more complex world, then chaos can't be far behind. And, it appears, that could be in the offing.
Human progress over the centuries has been a blood-sport. Social reforms have frequently come as a result of war pushing out the olde to make room for the new. The establishment tends to not let go easily.
But this book suggests a new possibility for change, more in keeping with our maturing as a thought-directed species. By comparatively analyzing the dynamics of past and present cultures, recognizing that the actual development, or lack thereof, of governance has been influenced by many extraneous factors, common principles can be gleaned from the data that can help guide us in making pre-emptive changes, hopefully before the current order falls apart.
Professor, political scientist, economist and author Francis Fukuyama is an ambitious fellow. He apparently believes that we've reached a sufficient point in our mental and social development to begin learning from our collective past, and we can now use this comprehensive "enlightenment" to create a better world. What a concept!
As we casually ignore nature's championing of survival-of-the-fittest, and the degeneration of our species that naturally results, there needs to be some balancing activity on the other end of the spectrum. Using the kind of information contained in this book to do some 'Steve Jobs'-type engineering, that's right- social engineering (sorry, Newt), we should be able to come up with a system that encourages innovation, rewards free enterprise AND liberates Everyman from the stranglehold of the special interests of the new Global Corporate economy. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Mr. Fukuyama is not perfect (It's reported he voted for Obama, at least in part as protest for the devastation caused by 8 years of George "W" – understood), but in my opinion, this is a seminal work. I searched before ordering this book to see if there was anything else like it. If there is, I couldn't find it.
He's not, as far as I can determine, pro-left or pro-right. If he's pro anything, he's pro-science. Do the research, ascertain the facts and let the results fall where they may. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. If we can wrench this subject away from the greedy sort who want to keep everything they have while grabbing for more, I think most of the rest of us will agree on the results. We are, after all, ancestrally connected. The majority of us all want the same things. If we base our method of trying to attain our common objectives on an understanding of the several millenia of history that is available to us, I think we'll have a much better chance of getting what we all want. Or we can just let it collapse, which it appears to be headed for doing.
Two thumbs way up - regardless of what "Lame" says. (Didn't quite get what that was all about.)
This book is simply amazing. As a political science major in college and graduate school, I've read a ton of histories and evaluations of politics but nothing comes close to this work. Fukuyama writes a complete and thorough analysis of human politics that is full of in depth case studies and insightful information. I would definitely recomend this book not only to poli sci students but also anyone wishing to know the origins of our political order.
Fukuyama begins by describing pre-state human social groups--and human biology--to be used as a foundation for the rest of his compelling theory for how states are formed--or rather were formed in history. His historical account of the development of states in China, India, the Ottoman empire, and Europe demonstrates that the road of state formation varies greatly, and is not at all purely progressive. The outcome of state formation is also varied (as we can see in the modern world).
If nothing else, the first half of this book is a great overview of the development of different societies. Fascinating. And really not dry.
Fukuyama is just detailed enough to make his theories convincing, one being that central components for a modern political state as we see in Western democracies require: a strong state, the rule of law, and state accountability to all citizens. Many states have one or more of these things, but every modern political order must have them all.
His whole book is a build up to an upcoming second volume which will describe why in modern times state formation can proceed more directly and purposely than it has in history: with so much violence and suffering.This first volume is interesting, but is not directly relevant for understanding the workings of modern states we currently live in. Such insight I believe will come in the next volume. Still, a fascinating read!
This is a narrative--the author's narrative--of how states formed in history. And it reads like a narrative. It's not exactly a light read, but the strong narrative aspects make it a very compelling read.
Davis narration is very clear with perfect pronunciation of works in other languages (well, as far as I can tell). His pace is great and his emphasis of works in sentences actually helps in understanding what Fukuyama is saying.
Fukuyam's insight of the pre-conditions for a modern liberal capitalist state is convincing and based not just on his historical research, but a solid socio-political philosophy as well.
Near the top, for its informed analysis.
It contextualizes our present political problems
Its harmony to the narrative.
I rather liked some of the explanations about political systems, the idea that a state of anarchy would produce something like a third world country and not a well-funcioning utopia. I also liked the sections dealing with the history of political systems in Asia, which was new to me.
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.
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