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The End of History and the Last Man Paperback – Feb 1 1993

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Non-Fiction; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380720027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380720026
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #215,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In a broad, ambitious work of political philosophy, a three-week PW bestseller in cloth, Fukuyama asserts that history is directional and that its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fukuyama, then deputy director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, first presented this thesis in the foreign policy journal National Interest (Summer 1989), where it attracted worldwide attention. He argues that there is a positive direction to current history, demonstrated by the collapse of authoritarian regimes of right and left and their replacement (in many but not all cases) by liberal governments. "A true global culture has emerged, centering around technologically driven economic growth and the capitalist social relations necessary to produce and sustain it." In the absence of viable alternatives to liberalism, history, conceived of as the clash of political ideologies, is at an end. We face instead the question of how to forge a rational global order that can accommodate humanity's restless desire for recognition without a return to chaos. Fukuyama's views conveniently present the international politics of the present administration. History disappears very early on in the narrative, to be replaced by abstract philosophy. This essay made into a book is pretentious and overblown, though it offers some grounds for speculation. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/91.
- David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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The twentieth century, it is safe to say, has made all of us into deep historical pessimists. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By smahadin@hotmail.com on Feb. 26 2000
Format: Paperback
Doubtless, this book received so much media attention because it was a gullible attempt at turning liberal democracy into a philosophy. This was unskillfully done through cutting and pasting from other existing modes of thought. I particullarly found his generalisations about Islam, Japan or even China quite offensive. If one wishes to stigmatise a whole civilisation, I suggest Mr. Fukuyama ignore the current modes of politicised Islam and have a look at the Middle ages when Muslim and Arab scholary work was the first thing scientists and thinkers turned to salvage themselves from the darkness of the middle ages. It is sufficient to point out that Greek philosophy was revived in Europe through back translation of Muslim scholars not to mention other fields such as Medicine, Chemistry, Math, the list goes on... I beleive that in order to understand where the world is going, one should not engage in re-constructing a meta-narrative with half-truths like that which pertains to liberal democracy which may have offered more choice in terms of how many brands of tea are available but at the expence of creating violence, anxieties, tattered family structures and social fiber. I suggest Mr. Fukuyama read history a bit more closely next time and he will find that the only system which managed to truly free humnity and push civlisation to the forefront is the version of Islam that existed before the 16th century.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it's not fair to write a review of this book, since I read it after it's thesis has been shown to be false in light of the events of 9-11. But, I'll do it anyways.
For me, this is a strange book. The main reason for this is Fukuyama's reliance on the work of Hegel and the dialectic of history. It's essentially Marx, except capitalism and liberalism are the final state. I just don't see why we should buy all of the Hegel stuff.
The essence of Fukuyama's argument boils down to the following empirical claims. (1) Communisim failed. And (2), despite some rogue nations like Iraq and Iran, most countries have accepted liberal democracy as the final form of government. (1) is true. (2) however is not. It seems like history has proven Fukuyama wrong. But, I already said that.
Aside from that, I don't think this book is all that great. The last section "the last man" doesn't make the persuasive case that Fukuyama thinks it does. He, himself, thinks it's an open question whether or not man's essential spirited (thymotic) nature will be satisfied by the artificial nature of liberal democracy (read: no chest beating wars). Well, apparently those are in vogue again. So, perhaps, Fukuyama was right about something: to appease his thymotic spirit, the liberal democratic man must wage war. Could he have Rumsfeld and Cheney pegged?
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Format: Paperback
By 'the end of history' Fukuyama means that humankind has found the ultimate form of governance and that the period of experimentation has come to an end. Hegel and Marx believed that the evolution of human societies would end when mankind had achieved a form of society that satisfies its deepest and most fundamental longings. For Hegel this was the liberal state while for Marx it was a communist society. Fukuyama believes that humanity will be led to liberal democracy.

The book is divided into five sections. Part I addresses the issue of universal history. As individuals we can be optimistic about the 20th century with its improving prospects of health and happiness but pessimistic at the slow progress towards liberal democracy. This 20th century pessimism is in contrast to the optimism of the 19th century marked by peace and improvements in material well being. Science was conquering disease and poverty and the spirit of 1776 and the French Revolution was spreading throughout the world. There was a feeling of accumulating knowledge, increasing wisdom and advancement from the lower to higher levels of intelligence and well being. Free trade was replacing empire building and it seemed that war would be economically irrational. But the 20th century started disastrously with thousands dying daily over a few yards of ground in World War I. Horrendous as this war turned out to be, it was only a foretaste of new forms of evil backed by modern technology and more sophisticated political organization. The ultimate evil of the holocaust emerged in a country with the most advanced industrial economy and one of the most cultured and well-educated populations in Europe, highlighting the need for technological progress to be accompanied by moral progress.
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Format: Paperback
Fukuyama does an excellent job of arguing his case, that democratization is man at his political best and the telos of human political history. In other words, the book is great because it forcefully presents an argument and makes the reader think critically about man as a political creature and what ultimately satisfies.
However, the book does have some distracting peculiarities. First, Fukuyama's obsession with Hegel. Sometimes, you get the feeling that Hegel is plugged in just for the name value; it often doesn't advance the case. Fukuyama spends forever defending the idea of the linearity of history, when it could have been done more succinctly. (On that note, Fukuyama invited critical scorn upon himself with such a pompous book title. Fukuyama totally ignores man's other pursuits, like religion, and puts political dreams as the ultimate.) And not all the chapters reinforced each other; (you get the feeling sometimes Fukuyama just strung together his journal articles or something.)
But the book has real strenghts. Fukuyama's insights into Nietzsche's critique of democracy is priceless. Also, I really enjoyed Fukuyama's treatment of the Hegelian "thymotic" origins of state.
In short, Fukuyama's ambitious work is a good read, will make you think, but not a masterpiece.
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