The End of History and the Last Man Paperback – Feb 1993
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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?
His analogies are not always logical, and the book's contents on Hegel are repetitive. Fukuyama's strength, however, is that he focuses on what is univeral in human nature and politics unlike Huntington and other academics who argue that some cultures are incompatible with liberal democracy. His work ranks among the most worthy political science books of the last decade that I have read.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
A great book has a kernel of an idea so profound that you will never forget it. This is such a book. Read morePublished on July 4 2004
Fukuyama argues in The End of History that 'the last man [i.e., us] becomes concerned above all for his own personal health and safety, because it is uncontroversial.... Read morePublished on March 22 2004
Fukuyama's book has become a somewhat amusing example of how not to practice history. Very few academics take this man seriously, perhaps we should. Read morePublished on March 8 2004
I did enjoy this book when i first read it two years ago. However, with the invasion of Iraq, I discovered the author, Professor Fukuyama, is a member of the warmongering group... Read morePublished on June 23 2003
This book is basically vested on Hegel and thymos (search for recognition).
Hegel's theories are fundamentally wrong and thymos is not an essential human necessity. Read more
Without question, "The End of History and the Last Man" is one of the finest affirmations of liberal democracy which I've read. Read morePublished on Nov. 23 2002 by John Kwok