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Origins Of Political Order Paperback – Mar 27 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Adult; Reprint edition (March 27 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533229
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.9 x 4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #100,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on April 20 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book because it does a good job reviewing the politics of ancient societies that traditionally don't get a lot of ink (Islamic, India, and especially China). They are part of the author's thesis that there are traceable origins to political order and the structure of governments. Briefly, Fukuyama is interested in how governments form and change over time, and why. This is a laudable goal, especially if the sequel to this book explores that theme to analyze where we are now and where we are likely to go in the future.

So why only four stars? Well, there's a few problems with the book. First, in places, the review of history is frankly boring. Fuyukama makes both broad generalizations (in this 300-year period there was calm) as well as rather pointless specifics (in the years 179, 184, and 185 A.D. there was war). Either make a detailed case of give me the summarized version. Switching back and forth seems odd at best, cherry-picking at worst. Second, despite proclaiming trying to find a theory of political origins, when it comes to the origins of government he claims, "in the end, there are too many interacting factors to be able to develop one strong, predictive theory of how and when states formed". Um, isn't that sort of the point of this book? Limited evidence (e.g., about early Indian governments) doesn't stop the author in other places. This smacks of cowardice and/or laziness. Finally, on a related note, the author suggests that a lot of historical writing is just "one [darn] thing after another" without any attempt at broad generalizations. Well, the author has at his disposal an excellent tool that he points out- human evolutionary biology/psychology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vlad Thelad TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 20 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone familiar with development, or at least with development lingo, has heard that "institutions matter." Indeed they do, yet, how, why, what for, and to what extent, are, for the most part, still unanswered questions. It is refreshing, then, that Fukuyama sets out to explore where it all comes from. He breaks down the notion of political order into three components (state, rule of law, and accountability) and tracks them through history (up to the eve of the French Revolution) inductively elaborating the basis of an explanatory Theory of their development.
Eventually, the hope is, we will know how to go about "institution building."
This is a very well written and pedagogical book. As for the theoretical principles that seem to emerge from it, brilliantly argued, as they are, their greatest asset lies in setting the stage for Volume 2. We eagerly await this second part, as this is a work that deserves to be gauged in its entirety.
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By Hektor Konomi on Nov. 19 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Origins of Political Order deserves to be a new classic at the intersection of history, political science and human studies. A remarkably concise, coherent and internally consistent history of human political development, it has breadth, as well as depth and substance.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 17 2011
Format: Hardcover
Francis Fukuyama is an American political philosopher, perhaps best known for his 1992 book The End of History, in which he argued that ideological struggle ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which marked the triumph of liberal democracy as a universal human ideal (even if reality does not quite live up to the ideal).

Despite the controversial nature of this claim, two decades later he stands by it in The Origins of Political Order: "Such is the prestige of modern liberal democracy that today's would-be authoritarians all have to stage elections and manipulate the media from behind the scenes to legitimate themselves. Authoritarians pay a compliment to democracy by pretending to be democrats."

Fukuyama presents his latest work as an update to his mentor Samuel Huntington's 1968 classic Political Order in Changing Societies. So it is both a work of history, and a work of political theory.

One novelty of Fukuyama's book is that he begins his history with pre-history: with chimpanzee politics, to be precise:

"According to the archaeologist Steven LeBlanc, much of non-complex society human warfare is similar to chimpanzee attacks. Massacres among humans at that social level are, in fact, rare occurrences, and victory by attrition is a viable strategy, as are buffer zones, surprise raids, taking captive females into the group, and mutilation of victims. The chimp and human behaviors are almost completely parallel. The primary difference is that human beings are more deadly because they are able to use a wider and more lethal suite of weapons.
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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 8 2011
Format: Hardcover
After six thousand years of civilization we are as the human race still trying to figure out what good government as opposed to bad really looks like. Eminent American sociologist Francis Fukuyama, originator of the controversial post-Cold War thesis concerning the end of history, has produced yet another in-depth, wide-sweeping analysis on how political rule has evolved over the ages. While this book may contain several controversial positions on the emergence of the modern state, it does not lack for evidence that shows a persistent pattern forming where the effective wielding of power at the centre guarantees the long-term survival of the polity. Following the tradition of the late Samuel Huntington, Fukuyama focuses on the internal development of empires like China, India, Russia, Islam, and France throughout history. He believes that the political center, with the help of a well-trained bureaucratic and militaristic institutions, usually manages to subdue opposing tribal forces or landed families enough to secure a substantial period of international dominance. Where that central strength breaks down through patrimonial corruption and incompetence, the many peripheral dissenting groups destabilize the ruling center. For example, the fall of the Bourbon and Tsarist empires were triggered by a protracted break-down of central control where monarch and court were unable to control the surging masses of the disaffected. Going into the twenty-first century, the two traditional empires of China and Russia appear to have a lock on centrally controlling their geopolitical space while continuing to augment their external presence.Read more ›
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