Jacob's Reviews > The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama
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's review
Jan 16, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

An extensive and interdisciplinary look at the foundations of political order and organization, starting with biological origins and continuing with a systematic look at the origins of the state, rule of law and accountability.

Fukuyama's main contributions include the formation/refinement of several notable theories: such as the three requirements for a foundation of a _successful_ democracy, the theory of political decay, and the conditions needed to break a society free of agnatic, patrimonial links to promote individualism (a theory that differs from the interpretations of other notable sociologists, like Marx). The author's work here certainly does an excellent job of adding and combining new ideas to a field of work already populated by some great thinkers, like Malthus, Weber, Rousseau, Durkheim, etc.

This book is exhaustive in its scope of analysis and explanation of certain concepts. This is a benefit as the book obviously gets into some abstract concepts, such as the bare foundations of the rule of law and the biological foundations of altruism. But, as other reviewers have noted, this book is almost overly cumbersome, in both its wordiness and repetitiveness. The organizational style can often be confusing as well. When reading an overview that needs to bring such broad disciplines together to create cohesive theories, it's a bit too much to be citing the same things (almost verbatim) several times per chapter, as if they were new to the reader.

Regardless of the writing style, the content of the book is certainly strong. Fukuyama's theories are compelling, well-studied, and contribute well to a long list of works that attempt to bring science to political order. Taking the theory of "political decay" alone, it can certainly change the way you view the state of modern politics.

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