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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Political Order)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  2,215 ratings  ·  203 reviews
Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which 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 are unable t ...more
Hardcover, 585 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2011)
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Olin Johnson I'm enjoying it so far. I think I'll have to get into it a little farther to really decide. It's very readable though. I'll keep ya posted.…moreI'm enjoying it so far. I think I'll have to get into it a little farther to really decide. It's very readable though. I'll keep ya posted.(less)

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Ajj
The best Civilization V based fan fiction ever! No seriously. I can't read a chapter in this book without thinking of Civ. games I have played. If you love Civ. you will love this book.

On a more serious note, I am very pleased with this book so far. While the general idea that the political situation of different areas is dependent on the cultural/political history of those areas seems pretty obvious, Fukuyama provides a wealth of information about different cultures that clearly illustrate his
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Szplug
Well-written, expertly-researched, and thoroughly establishing an evidentiary framework for the analysis Fukuyama brings to his politico-historical game: the permutations of state-building and infrastructure, rule of law, and governmental accountability that have accompanied the evolutionary pathway—fraught with periodic episodes of regression and decay—towards the modern era of various democratic state structures in the face of an inherent familialism—the latter the tendency, via segmentary lin ...more
Hadrian
Francis Fukuyama, unfortunately, is still widely known for his mistakes - and they are big ones - proclaiming the 'end of history' of the 1990s, and his influence in Neoconservatism and the disastrous military adventures of imperialism which resulted from it.

Fortunately for all, he has drifted away from that, and has now released a timely and remarkably observant book about the history and formation of states and political entities, in this particularly uncertain political climate. Political ent
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Roslyn Ross
-The whole premise of the book doesn't work for me. He starts off by saying that humans have a natural "need" for status and that is why politics exist. I disagree that "status" is a need. Status often meets the human needs of respect, appreciation, feeling valued, contributing, etc but "status" itself is not the need. The desire for "status" is usually a misinterpreted desire for self-esteem along the lines of: "If only I were important enough, then I would like myself!" So right there, in the ...more
Michael
Fukuyama joins Max Weber, Emil Durkheim and Karl Marx as one of the Great Ones of Sociology and Political Theory with the first volume of this two volume work. I am in excited anticipation of the second volume, which has just recently been released. In the context of modern writers, Fukuyama is connecting the dots between Jared Diamond's works on prehistoric social development and Neil Furgusan's work on the ascendance of western society post middle ages. Fukuyama provides a comprehensive accoun ...more
Jack
This was powerful. Perhaps a bit dry over large stretches. But it's the book neoconservatives should have read before Iraq, and it's the book liberals should read every time they think we should try to aid the world. It takes hundreds or thousands of years for a group of people to form a stable, democratic, civilized nation-state. There are certain steps on a long process that are better taken than others, and there is a preferred order to those steps, but there is also a lot of luck involved, w ...more
Gary
The author does a definitive survey of political development through out the world while avoiding the ODTAA ("one dang thing after another") trap survey books of this kind can often fall into. This kind of information often pops up in many of the books I read, but is never covered as a primary topic nor as definitively as this author covers this topic. Usually, it's hard to get a good description of the political history of Islam, India and China, and most authors force the story into their comi ...more
Ty
I have been a big fan of Fukuyama's since his groundbreaking first book, "The End of History and the Last Man" came out in the early 90's. His ability to weave together the strands of history across cultures and time were very impressive then, and are still well in evidence in this latest volume. "The Origins of Political Order" is the first in a two-parter, and this lead-off volume covers the ways in which human societies self-organized into units of various sizes, starting with prehistoric tim ...more
Antonio Nunez
Fukuyama has distilled a lifetime of learning into this book, where he aims to show how modernity comes about, state-wise. He begins with pre-modern times and shows that Hobbes and Rousseau'w view of a pre-social humanity is wrong. Humans always have been social, the same as our primate ancestors. Like chimpanzees, our nearest living relatives, we band together in small kin groups led by males, and within these groups there is both competition and cooperation. However, outside of the kin group t ...more
Steven Peterson
An ambitious work by a scholar who has aroused controversy with "big picture" analyses. This is the first of a projected two volume set. In brief, here is the purpose of this volume (Page xiii): "Hence, the current book, which looks at the historical origins of political institutions as well as the process of political decay. This is the first of two volumes, and it deals with political development from prehuman times up to roughly the eve of the French and American revolutions."

The story begins
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Susan
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama. It was the selection for our local book group and we ended up with a great discussion.

Amazing read. Gives one a totally different slant on history. Fukuyama (who was a student of Samuel Huntington whom I think I dislike but haven't read so what's that worth?) looks at the entire history of the planet trying to understand the rise of the state, by which he means an impersonal government, i.e. not a g
...more
Joe
When you’re penning a two-volume series ambitiously titled The Origins of Political Order, every word counts. When it comes to the word count of political philosopher Francis Fukuyama’s newest book, it’s a rather large one, splayed out over 600 pages. Cognizant of that, perhaps it’s better to spare the extraneous; Fukuyama’s investigation concerns no less than the historical development of human social organization from tribes, bands, clans and chiefdoms through 10,000 years to kingdoms, empires ...more
Umair Khan
Francis Fukuyama will always be best known, and mostly misunderstood, for his prophetic work The End of History and The Last Man celebrating the prevalence of democratic values and institutions over communism. This writing was influenced by the conservative Chicago philosopher, Allan Bloom who has despised the intellectual relativism growing in the American politics since then. Fukuyama feared, quite rightfully, that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, American politics will only be focused ...more
Tony Heyl
When I was in college, one of my poli sci professors talked about how important Fukuyama's perspective was in current political thought, and he is certainly smart, but this book was very boring and I think missed a lot of points. Fukuyama talks about the rise of political societies and explains how a successful state has a rule of law, accountability, and a strong state and explains how political orders and societies emerged in China, India, Russia, and Europe, going back as far as the first hu ...more
Sikander
If Morganthau's Politics Among Nations is considered Bible of International Relation then this book can also be considered no less. A must read for everyone who are interested in political/state evolution and its main pillars.

I like the way Professor Fukuyama justfied his arguments by comparative analysis of different empires and states.
Matt
Ambitious, incomplete (even for a first-of-two books), closed-minded, and interesting. Tries to pass off a lot of fairly unremarkable stuff as profound, and I'm not convinced that he knows all that much about the political philosophy that he spends a decent amount of time talking about. In any event, his summaries of how various modern states came into being are really cool, and he dissects a lot of the current thinking on development issues in an accessible way. Just take him with a grain of sa ...more
Peter Murray
"Getting to Denmark" - the buzzphrase used by social scientists to summarize efforts to bring rule of law behind a strong government with low levels of corruption to parts of the world that do no have it. A fascinating book. Fukuyama starts thousands of years ago (the opening chapter is actually a primer on the social tendencies of early human as he emerged from Africa 125,000 years ago) describes the rise of political systems in China, India, the Middle East, England and Europe. The book is a t ...more
William Ramsdell
A very accurate and solid text for filling in the gaps, but not much in the way of leaps foreword in thinking. I eagerly await the second volume nonetheless.

For me, the take home is two-fold: first, that exhibiting deference to kin groups through inheritance and other patrimonial systems is super bad, resulting in the exchange of real political power for [wealth, status, etc] by elites with entrenched, cash-strapped monarchies. The Anciem Regime is the classic case of this going wrong. This sys
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Matthew
My parents recommended this book, and I am glad they did.
I did not find this an easy read, as the writing is quite dry in places, but I found the overall effort of reading this book (vol 1 of 2) easily worthwhile. It is a comparative history of sorts - across multiple cultures (Western, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Chinese) - describing the origins of political development. The focus is on describing the origins and development of - to the various degrees in different cultures - of

a) The origin
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Sohaib Alagha
البروفيسور الأمريكي فرانسيس فوكوياما هو أحد أشهر الأكاديميين الأمريكان المعاصرين في علم السياسة والمجتمع.
في كتابة الشهير "نهاية التاريخ وأخر رجل" (عام ) يستنتج أن النموذج الليبرالي الغربي سوف ينتصر على كل نماذج إدارة المجتمع والسياسة. أفكار فوكوياما تختلف قليلا عن أفكار معلمه في جامعة هارفارد سامويل هونينكتون الذي أصدر كتابه المشهور "صراع الحضارات" عام والذي يستنتج أن الصراع القادم بعد فشل الشيوعية سيكون صراع عالمي بين الغرب والإسلام.

فرانسيس فوكوياما أصدر كتاب ثاني عام تحت اسم "أصول النظام الس
...more
Sandra Lazzell
Apr 15, 2015 Sandra Lazzell is currently reading it
In the Chapter 1 author makes the comment, "Free markets are necessary to promote long-term growth but they are not self-regulating particularly when comes to banks and other large financial institutions. The system's instability is a reflection of what is ultimately a political failure. That is, the failure to provide sufficient regulatory oversight, both at a national and international level. The cumulative effect of these economic crisis has not necessarily been to undermine confidence in mar ...more
Mohamad
This book is no light read, especially for a person not very well versed in political science. Nonetheless the book is way beyond that, delving into history, geography, economics, sociology and many other disciplines to present us with a relatively concise thesis given the enormous timeframe it attempts to cover.

As a reader of fiction, it was rather interesting to see material that fiction writers had "borrowed" from historical events mentioned in this book. For example "moots" and the rise of "
...more
Mike
Fukuyama does us all a service by reopening the conversation on the development of societies, seeking generalizable principles without giving into a simplistic deterministic view. I don't know that I buy into everything in the book, but it's a pleasant shift from the nuance-less propositions of many neoliberals, neoconservatives, neomarxists, etc. He uses a broad historical survey in an attempt to demonstrate the complex social dynamics that shape the political order in different societies, poin ...more
Jonatan Jõks
Notable quotes:

Many people, observing religious conflict in the contemporary world, have become hostile to religion as such and regard it as a source of violence and intolerance. In a world of overlapping and plural religious environments, this can clearly be the case. But they fail to put religion in its broader historical context, where it was a critical factor in permitting broad social cooperation that transcended kin and friends as a source of social relationships.

Human beings have a natura
...more
David
I think a great challenge to this work is that it covers such a large historical period and such large geography that it will hard to access the accuracy of the work. In particular, whether any errors are substantive enough to impact his overall thesis. That said, I enjoyed looking at the development of so many different political systems through time. I certainly see the applicability of his analysis on to modern cultures. I found his overall reasoning to be quite persuasive, and I can hardly w ...more
Julie
This was a well-researched book that studies the development of society and government from prehistorical times (with even some discussion of primate organization) all the way through to the French revolution. It's so interesting to see how complicated the process of developing a nation can be. I really enjoyed the comparison of different societies - China, India, France, and England especially. Some of his insights explain how, even today, these countries are heavily influenced by cultural norm ...more
Steele Dimmock
For a great baseline knowledge of how political order arose, read this book. If you don't already know, Politics is tightly woven together with Law and Economics. Both of these subjects are addressed, with Law receiving the larger amount of attention.

The author explorers notions like that of "The Mandate of Heaven" which is what gives the ruler their authority to rule, "Tyranny of Cousins" where close kinship control what is believed and what is acceptable, and "Private Property rights" which s
...more
Mark Reed
I found this to be very interesting and I like his approach of comparing the political process in various parts of the world. Maybe because as a friend suggests, I come from a science background and a lot of this was new to me. :) He starts with prehistory and covers up through the French Revolution or so. His next volume will pick up from the 19th century and cover until the present. He examines state formation in China, India, Muslim lands and medieval Europe and Russia (although leaves out Gr ...more
Saku Mantere
An elegant and profound treatise on the birth of the modern state as we know it: unified state, rule of law and accountable government. By studying the complex process through which all three are achieved in a functioning political system, Fukuyama also reminds us what a valuable inheritance the preceeding generations have left us with our political institutions,

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Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.
Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese-American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church and received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fu
...more
More about Francis Fukuyama...

Other Books in the Series

Political Order (2 books)
  • Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy
The End of History and the Last Man Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy Trust: The Social Virtue and the Creation of Prosperity America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy

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“Free markets are necessary to promote long-term growth, but they are not self-regulating, particularly when it comes to banks and other large financial institutions.” 1 likes
“Many people, observing religious conflict in the contemporary world, have become hostile to religion as such and regard it as a source of violence and intolerance.5 In a world of overlapping and plural religious environments, this can clearly be the case. But they fail to put religion in its broader historical context, where it was a critical factor in permitting broad social cooperation that transcended kin and friends as a source of social relationships. Moreover, secular ideologies like Marxism-Leninism or nationalism that have displaced religious beliefs in many contemporary societies can be and have been no less destructive due to the passionate beliefs that they engender.” 0 likes
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