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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)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,731 ratings  ·  153 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 2011)
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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...more
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
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...more
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
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
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...more
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
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
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
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.
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
Sohaib Alagha
البروفيسور الأمريكي فرانسيس فوكوياما هو أحد أشهر الأكاديميين الأمريكان المعاصرين في علم السياسة والمجتمع.
في كتابة الشهير "نهاية التاريخ وأخر رجل" (عام ١٩٩٢) 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 ١٩٩٦ والذي يستنتج أن الصراع القادم بعد فشل الشيوعية سيكون صراع عالمي بين الغرب والإسلام.

فرانسيس فوكوياما أصدر كتاب ثاني عام ٢٠١١ تحت اسم "أصو...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,

David Mcphee
This book is not an easy read, intriguing, browse able, enlightening yes. The type of book you can keep by your chair and from time to time flip it open for an hour or two. From chaos to order, the tortuous evolution of the rule of law and accountability, no state to the church as a state, worth the time….good luck you should find it interesting I did.
Brad D. Faglie, MD
This is a mammoth of a work. While I do not agree with some very small and inconsequential points within, my current understanding would not allow myself to debate even those small points. However, I believe this book has provided a great starting point in political philosophy to go back and understand the works of Plato, Hobbs, Locke, and Malthus. Then Hayek, Marx, Weber, and Huntington.

The premise is that the state is but a turtle standing on the shells of an incalculable amount of turtles. T...more
This was a refreshingly different perspective than a lot of historical books. Instead of starting from European history as a baseline like a lot of books would do, this starts with China, instead. It's an interesting idea, and well explained. It's quite extensive, and takes a good while to get out of China to look at the rest of the world. I still feel like several parts of the world were left out, and this only covers up to the time of the French Revolution. There is a second volume explaining...more
Chris Schammel
Fukuyama sets upon an interesting exercise in comparative historical analysis. He starts with the basis of human social evolution and builds from there. I do think some of his analysis is not terribly impartial, where he uses phrases like "failed to _______" as if the goal of the society was to achieve that blank (democratic capitalist society, usually). The book is, overall, thought provoking, and provides a lot of examples of the history of China and India, which are very often overlooked in W...more
Adri Nurellari
Great book, Fukyama strikes again.
This is a weird book, and maybe one I'll have to revisit. I gave it 3 stars, but unlike many other 3-star books which are often inoffensive but bland, this book was a mix of very interesting and just puzzling. He does a very good overview of the history of political organization throughout the ages, but I don't think he does a very good job building a case for the conclusions he draws. I'd love to see a similar in-depth history written by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, who I think actually does do a g...more
Doug Vanderweide
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Francis Fukuyama is associated with the neo-conservative movement, so I totally disagree with his politics. This book is not political in that way. It is more of an anthropological study of how states evolved similar to something like "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond or going way back "A Study of History" by Toynbee. Fukuyama concentrates more on China and India which are often neglected in studies like these and excludes Rome and Greece (as well as the Native American states). Fukuyama...more
What I liked about this book is that it is very big picture, which is something most authors shy away from. Fukuyama is a big idea thinker, and has attempted to capture all of political development from prehistoric times up to the French and American revolutions in this volume. He looks at the development of the institutions that make up modern politics, and their contingent nature, the historical accidents that led to their discovery. He takes an evolutionary take on political development, as o...more
The book tries to answer why various political economies are what they are based on their evolution. And it fails. And succeeds.

Certain questions are so broad in scope that they can never be answered in any book length material. If answers are totally subjective based on interpretation of history or culture or any similar characteristics, the enterprise is bound to lead to a large number of disconcerting disagreements and disapprovals from any discerning reader. Yet, this does not necessarily re...more
I was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information that Fukuyama stuffed into this volume, but I learned a ton about Chinese, Indian, and European history from pre-modern times up through roughly the European Enlightenment. This was a real treat, as I have studied these regions relatively little. I found Fukuyama's prose clear, tight, readable, and free of academic jargon, all of which underscores the fact that this book is aimed at normal readers as much as it is to academics. My only q...more
Ruchira Datta
Nov 4, 2011: Just read Chapter 16, "Christianity undermines the family." Well-argued, especially in the context of the preceding chapters, but mind-blowing.

In general, I'm finding this book much more coherent, edifying, and persuasive than The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, although the latter contained more data.

Nov 8, 2011: I read Chapter 25, "East of the Elbe". The section "Freedom and Oligarchy" made an important point which doesn't always occur to people who are unaware of their own privile...more
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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
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