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The End of History and the Last Man [Paperback]

Francis Fukuyama
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2006
Ever since its first publication in 1992, The End of History and the Last Man has provoked controversy and debate. Francis Fukuyama's prescient analysis of religious fundamentalism, politics, scientific progress, ethical codes, and war is as essential for a world fighting fundamentalist terrorists as it was for the end of the Cold War. Now updated with a new afterword, The End of History and the Last Man is a modern classic.

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Irrelevant work with amazing staying power May 4 2000
It's really hard to top that priceless review below, but I'll give it a shot. It's really amazing that after about seven years of hindsight, people are still writing rave reviews of this book for its amazing philosophical insights. Fukuyama himself had to back-pedal several times to qualify the bubbling optimism he expressed in the early nineties about the final victory of liberal democracy and the "end of History" (he essentially refutes his own thesis in the conclusion to this book). It's also quite interesting that none of the reviewers who loved this book so much noted the inherent contradiction in Fukuyama's use of Marxist philosophical methods to arrive at a "non-Marxist conclusion," or his continuous extolling of Hegel as some sort of predecessor to liberal democracy. Hegel was hardly democratic in outlook (he greatly admired the powerful and autocratic Prussian state) and he can rightfully be considered an early proponent of an exclusive northern German nationalism. Fukuyama's book is very flawed, and should have been relegated to the dustbin of history (no capital "H") long ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars To Be Frank - A Load Of Old Rubbish May 14 2000
Fukuyama's far fetched and frankly irrelevant theories bore me, I'm afraid to say. This was the book that introduced me to that way of thinking - it's basically written by a wealthy American academic (who has spent most of his life employed by the US government), claiming that the American capitalist system has conquered all political alternatives, surpassing even that of democracy and especially that of communism. Capitalism is, for Fukuyama, the end of the evolution of man and the start of an eternal status quo. This idea is laughable in concept and is further ridiculed by his over-selective choice of material which is already outdated. Clearly it is his ideal world - but I not sure that everyone shares it and even less sure that we have reached it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In search of a grand narrative Feb. 26 2000
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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2.0 out of 5 stars The Penultimate Man June 4 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Jan. 31 2004
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Influenced my world view forever
A great book has a kernel of an idea so profound that you will never forget it. This is such a book. Read more
Published on July 4 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Fukuyama needs a dictionary
...to look up the meaning of the word 'teleology.'
Published on May 30 2004 by jeffrey schwartz
2.0 out of 5 stars He's not optimistic
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 more
Published on March 22 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars People Still Take this Seriously?
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 more
Published on March 8 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Consider the source . . .
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 more
Published on June 23 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Argument for Liberal Democracy
Fukuyama does an excellent job of arguing his case, that democratization is man at his political best and the telos of human political history. Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by nafrica
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Turn in an Ancient Debate
I only wish I'd read Fukuyama's book after taking a slew of political theory courses in the early '90s. Read more
Published on April 21 2003 by Bradley K. Stilwell
1.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally flawed and full of nonsense.
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
Published on April 14 2003 by Luc REYNAERT
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Influential Book of the 1990's?
Without question, "The End of History and the Last Man" is one of the finest affirmations of liberal democracy which I've read. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2002 by John Kwok
4.0 out of 5 stars not a simple thesis
I suspect that many have skipped reading this book because they believe it advances a simplistic, triumphalist thesis: the fall of the Soviet Union proves that the USA is the... Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2002
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