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

(Political Order)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  5,927 ratings  ·  456 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 citizens. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to pe

Audible Audio, 23 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Audible, Inc. (first published January 1st 2011)
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Zander Amazon sells a kindle edition if you have difficulties with shipping
Olin 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.
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Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The whole premise of the book is based on humans having a natural need for status. That is why politics supposedly exists. But is status really a need? I know status can help us get some of our needs met, our needs for respect, appreciation, feeling valued, feeling seen, finding a mate, but status itself as a NEED? I don't see status as the motivating factor for the actions of most of the high status people I know.

I do see status as a motivating factor for people with low self-esteem, along the
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Francis Fukuyama’s excellent Political Order and Political Decay a few years ago, I made a note at some point to go back and read the first volume of his work on the subject. The Origins of Political Order is a very ambitious attempt at explaining how modern state-centric societies arose in human history. Generally speaking, I think that any attempt to articulate a sweeping thesis covering every civilization in the world is doomed, at the very least, to suffer some major flaws. To ...more
Atila Iamarino
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Uma versão mais longa, detalhada e cheia de exemplos históricos do que o Porque Falham as Nações explica. Um livro bem longo que passa pela história de várias civilizações explicando como o passado delas deu condições ou criou complicações que implicam no presente. Ótimas ideias, muito bem explicado, um tanto repetitivo, especialmente porque ele conta e reconta as mesmas condições em mais de um capítulo – eles lembram mais textos individuais, não algo que você leria em ordem no mesmo livro.

Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll be honest, this was a dense book for me, covering a lot of material from areas of history I'm woefully uneducated and ignorant of. But that was part of the fun, this book got me outside my comfort zone (namely US and European history) and gave me a feel for cultures and histories that I haven't been exposed to. I enjoyed the historical surveys of cultures like China and the Arab world. I felt I learned a lot. But I also feel this is a book I will need to reread. There is just so much materi ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is, overall, an excellent book and one of the better ones on grand history I've read†... but Fukuyama does not have a very transparent prose style, and makes no concessions to those who don't have a good grasp on global history and especially those who don't know their Chinese history well (eg. if you can't put the Qing, Han, Qin, and Shang dynasty in order, you aren't going to enjoy at all the large amounts of material he rightfully devotes to Chinese politics). And it's seriously big, no ki ...more
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Daniel Burnham, Francis Fukuyama makes no small plans. “The Origins of Political Order” aspires to be nothing less than an all-encompassing explanation of how human beings created political order. This book carries Fukuyama’s analysis up to the French Revolution; a second volume carries the story to the modern day. This volume is mostly taken up with creating and discussing a coherent framework that explains political order before the modern era. Much of what Fukuyama discusses here is non- ...more
Umair Khan
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, history
How Not to Write a History Book: The art of making a pile of mostly-derivations-from-primary-sources unengaging and lifeless (again). The third star is for the general education value.

The likely winner of the most boring book of the year. Can't believe I got myself into reading the second (and even longer) one too.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Professor Fukuyama's magisterial work on the origins and evolution of political structures is probably the most important political science text published in this century, and this, the first volume, covers how nation-states evolved from tribal groups, and how they developed strong governing institutions, the rule of law and (eventually) accountable government. There are still powerful states that lack the latter and even the rule of law (like China) but Fukuyama convincingly demonstrates that t ...more
May 舞
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-ficition
Easy to read, informative, and well-structured. Enjoyed reading it very much and will be taking many new ideas and insights with me into the new year, 2019 <3
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm writing this review 6 months after finishing the book for a pretty simple reason: I had precisely 100 notes to transcribe into Evernote before I was ready to write my review. That should tell you how much I got out of the book, by the way. There are a only a few books--probably the The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, maybe The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates--that netted me more fascinating notes and quotes than this one ...more
Paul Crider
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
This book impressed me. Fukuyama is humble enough to recognize that his topic is far too complex and multicausal to allow for anything like a predictive theory. Instead, he describes the historical details associated with the development of his three ingredients of political order in representative societies. These ingredients are a strong state, the rule of law, and political accountability. Fukuyama frequently references his explanatory "turtles": every big historical causal force was position ...more
James Giammona
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the top ten books I've ever read. An amazing introduction to world history and the development of civilization. Learned a ton about Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and medieval European history! Fukuyama's framework and thesis is compelling. The hallmarks of a modern state are an impersonal bureaucratic government, a strong separate rule of law and accountable government. These do not arise simultaneously from economic growth, but have arisen in at different times and orders (or not at al ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Francis Fukuyama’s “The Origins of Political Order” is fantastic book that puts forward a broad theory of political development that attempts to explain, in the grand sweep of human (pre-modern) history, the emergence of political institutions and the contextual forces that can support and/or undermine their development. The book guides the reader from pre-historical tribalism to the birth of Fukuyama’s first true state (China) up to the 18th century as he assess civilizations at different times ...more
Obeida Takriti
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
بعض الكتب كهذه يجب أن نخجل أن نعطيها نجوماً أصلاً..
فالجهد الذي استثمره الكاتب هو أكبر من آرائنا البسيطة..
الكتاب ممتع بانتقاله من مجتمع لآخر من الصين، الهند، الشرق الأوسط، بريطانيا، هولندا، وغيرها من البلاد الأخرى..
وينتقل زمانياً أيضاً من الإنسان البدائي لعصورنا الحالية..
كل هذا محاولة منه أن يفهم أساس النظام السياسي وشكله منذ بداية الأنظمة السياسية وحتى الثورة الفرنسية..
ويطمح الكاتب ليكمل هذا الكتاب بكتاب آخر عن النظام السياسي منذ الثورة الفرنسية حتى اليوم..
حيث يعتقد أن هذا العصر يحتاج لتفكير يخت
Elizabeth Wig
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z-2016, nonfiction
Easy to read, conversational while still informative, comparative and multicultural: this book was everything that my world history textbook was not, while still providing an engaging and enlightening overview about the reasoning for various political systems and their roots in different parts of the world.
Dana Aldee
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es mi primera experiencia con Fukuyama, al que conocía sólo de oídas. Y conocerle sólo de oídas es lo que ha hecho que me sorprenda tanto este libro, que me ha parecido el relato sobre los orígenes del Estado más convincente que he leído. El libro está dividido en varias partes destinadas cada una de ellas a descubrir el origen de cada uno de los tres elementos que, según Fukuyama, caracterizan al Estado moderno: la autoridad centralizada, la subordinación a la ley y el gobierno responsable. Huy ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
Fukuyama answers some pertinent questions.
How some tribal societies managed to mushroom into successful states while others didn't?
What are the necessary ingredients takes to form a successful state?
What is the role of institutions in building a successful state?
Does religion help?
How big is a role of wars is in breaking old values?
Both volumes should make necessary reading for any political science students
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the formation of state and political development across civilizations. It helps to understand why the state in the Unites States, China, and India functions in such different ways.

Fukuyama gives historical perspective on conditions required for the state development from prehistoric periods till the French Revolution. He also provides comparative analysis of different models of state institutions.
Bob Nichols
The book, the first volume of Fukuyama’s study of political order and decay, covers the period from our hunter-gathering beginnings to the industrial revolution. These volumes follow up on Huntington’s 1968 classic, “Political Order in Changing Societies” (Huntington was Fukuyama’s mentor). This is the same review I wrote for his second volume.

Fukuyama is impressively multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural in his approach. He sees a more or less linear development in political organization that,
"The Origin of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution," by Francis Fukuyama is a large text on the origins and development of political stability throughout the human world. Fukuyama starts with prehistoric human tribes, looking at human biological and sociological factors in considering why humans act as they do toward each other, and to develop a background to human political development. Fukuyama then begins to examine the development of the Rule of Law, centralized aut ...more
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Antonio Nunez
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book that I have read of Mr Francis Fukuyama and I am glad I did.
I have not read the first part but it was ok since he provided a summary of it in the first chapter.
The biggest thing about this book is the way it is written. Mr Fukuyama has a gift for writing complex ideas and processes in a simple language with a clarity that most writers lack.

I would highly recommend you to read this book for getting the idea about the latest political developments around the world. It wil
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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

Other books in the series

Political Order (2 books)
  • Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy
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“Human beings are rule-following animals by nature; they are born to conform to the social norms they see around them, and they entrench those rules with often transcendent meaning and value. When the surrounding environment changes and new challenges arise, there is often a disjunction between existing institutions and present needs. Those institutions are supported by legions of entrenched stakeholders who oppose any fundamental change.” 5 likes
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