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The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution [Anglais] [Broché]

Francis Fukuyama
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Descriptions du produit

The Origins of Political Order If we are to understand the politics that we now take for granted, we need to understand its origins. This book examines the paths that different societies have taken to reach their current forms of political order. It starts with the very beginning of mankind and comes right up to the eve of the French and American revolutions. Full description

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 608 pages
  • Editeur : Farrar Straus Giroux; Édition : Reprint (27 mars 2012)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0374533229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533229
  • Dimensions du produit: 21 x 13,9 x 4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 16.915 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good book 28 mars 2013
Par phong vo
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
It reveals a novel insight into political history.
I haven't read it throughly, but it is interesting in the beginning.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  95 commentaires
218 internautes sur 237 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fukuyama's Magnum Opus 12 avril 2011
Par Justin Hyde - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Since publishing his essay "The End of History?" in The National in 1989, Fukuyama has cemented himself as an important public intellectual and historical anthropologist. A former neo-conservative, Fukuyama, 58, now serves as the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

In this book, Fukuyama attempts to understand how humans moved from tribal and familial connections to organized institutions of states and governments. He writes, "In the developed world, we take the existence of government so much for granted that we sometimes forget how difficult it was to create."

Fukuyama artfully navigates the transition of humans from hunter-gather bands to tribalized communities to states and organized forms of government. Fukuyama emphasizes China because the Qin Dynasty was the first "state" to gain victory over tribalism. He contrasts this with Europe, which did not overcome tribalism until 1000 years later, and had to progress through feudalism before creating citizens loyal to the state.

Fukuyama's approach to historical anthropology stands in stark contrast to the "single cause" approach of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (2005). Fukuyama points to familial connections, human behavior, organized religion, and the human propensity for war as variable causes to the evolution of societies. Fukuyama engages disciplines outside of his usual realm including anthropology, economics, and biology. He notes, "It does seem to me that there is a virtue in looking across time and space in a comparative fashion."

Many readers have already labeled this as Fukuyama's "magnum opus" including Arthur Melzer (political scientist at Michigan State University), George Sorensen (political scientist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark), and Teru Kuwayama (Newsweek). Fukuyama himself referred to this book as "the primer I wished I had had when I started in political science" (in an interview at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies).

The Origins of Political Order is a broad, sweeping analysis of human development from pre-human times to the French Revolution. The book ends with the 18th century; a second volume will bring the story to the present day. Indeed, Fukuyama notes in the Preface, "It is extremely important to read this volume in anticipation of what is to come in the second. As I make clear in the final chapter of this book, political development in the modern world occurs under substantially different conditions from those in the period up until the late eighteenth century."

In spite of Fukuyama's readable style and engaging content, this book is academic and dense. Yet it serves as a helpful entry point into Fukuyama's current thought and research. It will no doubt become required reading in institutions across the globe in the following months and years and eventually revered as a classic.
78 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A thoughtful addition to the world-historical theorizing genre 9 mai 2011
Par Ryan - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The Origins of Political Order is an engaging read for anyone willing to grant the author license to do some old school multidisciplinary broad-scope theorizing on a hugely important question: What are the origins of political order? Why did key political institutions -- a centralized state with a monopoly on the use of force, enforcement of legal norms by third parties, and accountability of the state to outside forces -- develop in some places and not others?

The real standard for evaluating this kind of book, a work in the world-historical Guns, Germs, and Steel genre, is not whether the author gets details wrong, or misconstrues some of the theories or cultures he discusses. This is inevitable. No one can be an expert in biology, the history of China, cultural anthropology, primate behavior, and legal history. But as Fukuyama correctly argues, that the task is necessarily imperfect and difficult doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile. The standard for success is whether the necessarily imperfect effort nonetheless tells us something new and interesting. And Fukuyama succeeds on this metric.

Fukuyama abolishes any doubts the reader might harbor about political development as separate from economic or social development, and destroys any notion the reader might have that political order is somehow automatic or natural. Fukuyama will persuade you that political order is instead fragile and contingent. And he'll do it while taking you on a fascinating tour of the history of several different nations as well as the history of humans as a species. You'll learn about geography, primate behavior, and religion. Indeed, the pages are brimming with interesting theories on the various sub-topics that make up the volume, each of which could form its own PhD project. That none is quite fully explored is a necessary byproduct of the scope of the work.

Fukuyama, of course, has his biases. He gleefully and rightly eschews political correctness. Some readers might flinch, for example, at the characterization of societies that use women as chattel as essentially egalitarian and free. But Fukuyama's biases are not Right or Left; readers of any partisan persuasion will find things to like and dislike about Fukuyama's conclusions.

If nothing else, the book is a sterling example of clear, concise prose that is well-edited. You won't find yourself puzzling over poorly written sentences, awkward constructions, or unfocused structure.

It's hard to a imagine a reader of nonfiction who wouldn't find something to like about this book. Give it a shot.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A great primer for students of political science; tackles overly simplified theories of political development 9 juin 2011
Par Guido Donofrio - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I read this book after getting through Matt Ridley's "The Rational Optimist." I thoroughly enjoyed Ridley's book but was skeptical about his single-minded emphasis on evolutionary bottom-up processes (a free market of ideas) as drivers of political development/order. Whereas Ridley almost always sees top-down governmental action as an impediment to development--something that stifles the naturalistic order produced by free market exchanges--Fukuyama takes a more even-handed, multi-dimensional and one might argue, accurate approach.

Fukuyama ascribes the development of political order to the rise of governmental accountability, the rule of law, and a centralized, impersonal state/bureaucracy. To defend this premise, he tackles some of the simplifications offered by Enlightenment thinkers, Marxists and free-marketers/libertarians. For one, he shows how Enlightenment thinkers got the 'state of nature' wrong: humans evolved to hunt and gather in groups--there never was a time when individuals acted as free-agents who, in their rational self-interest, came to establish a 'social contract' wherein they would give up some liberty in order to provide for the common security (government). Instead, there was an ongoing interplay between an emergent market morality (provided by tit-for-tat exchanges), the need to wage war, and ideas (religion, ideology & normative beliefs regarding the law) that together have tended to promote the development of political order in societies. And political development, rather than being a constant progression toward some liberal-democratic or Marxist-utopian goal, is fragile and just as likely to decay as it is to progress. Furthermore, Fukuyama explains why it is futile to try to radically impose a new social order on a state (evidenced by the excesses of the French Revolution and failures of collectivist farming reform in communist societies); and also, why one cannot count on limited governments and free markets to produce political development.

Fukuyama does not offer any simple causes or solutions to the problems of political development in this volume--and that's a good thing. Polemical condemnations of American imperialism, authoritarianism, and centralized government are, thankfully, nowhere to be found. Instead, some of the major contributors of political decay/disorder are described as patrimonialism (nepotism), a lack of social unity (collective exploitation by any one group), "collective action problems" (whereby individuals interests benefit from a suboptimal order) and a lack of faith in the law. The author does not expound democratic models over authoritarian models of development; nor does he consider economic development to be contingent on the rise of democratic institutions. He discusses the deficiencies of weak (inability to act decisively & tackle entrenched interests) and strong governments (potential for abuse of power). Furthermore, he provides evidence against the cynic's view that governments and political actors alway seek to maximize their 'rational self-interests'--desire for recognition, institutional conservatism, and ideas being curbing factors. In all, I would say his treatment of the subject is even-handed, thorough and copiously defended with examples from across time and regions.

Fukuyama has called this book the primer that he wished he'd had as an undergrad student in political science. His style of writing is direct and well-organized. Fukuyama provides enough background information to make his discussions of most concepts and various instances of political development across regions and time comprehensible, but I still found myself getting a bit lost at times. Thankfully, he summarizes his points often and at the end of chapters. If I had to critique this book as a primer for undergrads, I'd say that perhaps it might be a bit too heavy-duty in the length and the number of examples provided by Fukuyama to make his points. However, this book is immense in scope and scale, well-reasoned and dispels a number of misconceptions starting political science students might have or might develop over time--making it invaluable to serious students. And, then again, what are professors for if not to challenge their students with "impossible" readings and then help make the difficult points understandable?
97 internautes sur 123 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Why are we subjected to such a mind-numbing style? 29 mai 2011
Par S. Spilka - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The book makes interesting points. I particularly like the author's framework for a definition of democracy: State--Rule of Law--Accountability. If any one of these elements is missing, democracy fails. Thus democracy has a moral core which can never be ignored or dismissed. The word "accountability" means responsibility (and often courage); accountable rulers act for the good of their people rather than for their own power and selfish needs.

Fukuyama's assertions that there has never been a society without religion and that violence is inborn, "rooted in human nature," are also thoughtful and challenging. Furthermore, the fascinating historical detail he relates about the Swedish and Danish monarchs in the 18th century, who made common cause with the peasantry against a weak aristocracy, points to the variety of ways nations achieved, failed to achieve, or can achieve democratic rule. There are numerous thought-provoking historical facts in the book (i.e., that the Brahmins in India had a higher authority than the warriors), but facts alone do not create a good book.

Fukuyama's style deadens the mind. Surely he had read the great literary works (he mentions Tolstoy's "War and Peace"--his only reference to a literary work) but what had he learned from them? Had he learned, for example, that metaphors, details, parallelism, anecdotes (or illustrations), variety in sentence structure, and conciseness are the essential elements of good writing? Had he learned anything about the vigor and pith of language? No. And if you say that that's the way political scientists, or historians, write, just have a look at Tocqueville's excerpts which Fukuyama quotes (345). These excerpts alone, as well as those by Adam Smith (412), should have made Fukuyama blush in shame. Let me be more specific.

The first noticeable weakness in Fukuyama's style is wordiness. (Some reviewers have already remarked on that.) I will try to edit one of his typically overwritten sentences:

Fukuyama: "The expansion of the charmed circle of human beings accorded equal dignity was very slow, however, and only after the seventeen century came eventually to include the lower social classes, women, racial, religious, and ethnic minorities, and the like" (445).

My editing: "The charmed circle, which accorded equal dignity to all citizens, expanded slowly; only after the 17th century did it eventually include the lower social classes--women and religious and ethnic minorities." Fukuyama uses 39 words; I have used 31. If any reader finds that my shorter version distorts the author's meaning, please let me know. Wordiness is not a trivial aspect of writing; it obstructs clarity. It hangs over the book's landscape like stubborn fog.

The above quotation also demonstrates Fukuyama's preference for helping verbs (is, was) and linking verbs (look, seem, become, or the odd "came" in this quote) over action verbs. Of course, writing must include helping and linking verbs, but it must also use action verbs that move the prose forward at a good clip. If we imagine the book as a long road across which the words travel, we can say that Fukuyama relies heavily on abstract nouns and adjectives which move slowly across the page like heavy vehicles--buses, trucks, and tanks. Here are some them: "cooperative problems," "selective pressure," "external environment," "adaptable organization," "political stability," "organizing for predations," "coercive capacity," "relatively privileged groups," and "debt renegotiation." And who moves these heavy vehicles forward? the frail and pitiful helping and linking verbs! Where are the action verbs, where are the images, the metaphors, and the rich diction that could turn this excruciating prose into a vital and limpid narration?

Finally, I must point out Fukuyama's fondness for passive constructions. The German language likes passive constructions; the English language definitely does not. Yes passive constructions abound in this book. Here's one example: "The fluidity and open access demanded by modern market economies undermine many traditional forms of social authority and force their replacement with more flexible, voluntary forms of association" (471). Yes, there are two action verbs here ("undermine" and "force") but the construction is passive. Here's my active version: "Modern market economies demand fluidity and open access and thus undermine traditional forms of social authority and forcefully replace them with flexible and voluntary forms of association."

How could Jonathan Galassi, a respected editor, a poet, and a discerning translator of poetry, release to the world a book with such an inferior and inadequate style?
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A lay person enjoys this book 13 septembre 2011
Par Lou - Publié sur
I just finished reading this book, and I enjoyed it. My background is in Biology so I studied in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics. I enjoyed languages, so I also studied in French and Spanish, and I really enjoyed reading for pleasure, so I studied American, French, Chinese and English Literature. As I am getting older, I am beginning to realize that I basically only have a high school level understanding of History, so my present goal is to fill in the gaps and catch up a bit. This was my first book on Political History, so I'm not sure my comments will be all that helpful to people who are more familiar with the subject.

My general criticisms would be 1) the figures are not worth including in the book as they are currently presented, and 2) the prose often does not flow very well, so the meaning of many sentences is obscured.

In Natural Science textbooks figures are an essential explanatory feature: they are usually well conceived and constructed, detailed and clear. I find the figures in this book to be so simple to the point of being beside the point or their meaning too vague to be worthwhile including. A few words in boxes do not an explanation make. Either make the figures more dynamic and understandable (i.e. useful on a first read), explain them well via the text, or don't bother including them.

While the flow of writing is generally good, there are sentences that I had to read over and over again in order to understand them: have a good proof reader, not in your field of expertise, read the final draft in order to modify sentences that don't make a lot of sense on first or second reading.

Well, this being my first Polysci book, I can't comment too much on content other than that I do find many of the premises plausible, although a few more varied examples to support your points would be helpful and allow for a more critical analysis of your ideas (lacking, as your discipline does, possibilities for direct experimentation :-).

Being my first encounter, I have to say I did appreciate your repetition: tell them what you are going to say, say it, tell them what you just said: but that aspect was really overdone, and if I were reading this book as an expert in the field, I'd totally lose patience with the repetition of salient points.

Here are the points I will take away from the book:

*There are three components of a truly democratic government: 1) an effective bureaucracy, 2) rule of law, 3) and accountability of the government to the people.

*The role of religion in politics is significant, whether it be the role of Christianity in helping develop rule of law and comparatively weakening kinship relationships in the West, or Christianity, Islam and Buddhism promoting in-group relationships that transcend political regions and alliances.

*The default mode of human political order is clan or kinship level relationships.

*Humans are basically social organisms and have a tendency to violence based in their animal nature.

*Through most of human history, the majority of human beings have been subjected to extraordinary cruelty by a few of their fellows. (These "fellows" ought to be taken out and flogged, hanged or shot, so the majority of us can just go about enjoying our lives in peace and industry.)

I got a kick from another poster who said, basically, "I stopped reading this book when the author explained how Christianity, in the form of the Catholic Church, `destroyed' `the family' (kinship relationships)." Had he read on, he would have discovered how Christianity, and other `we are the people' religions, provided a context for the rule of law which is so paramount to the effectiveness of our own society.

I have often thought that an atom is an extremely complex thing. And, if you even just forget about the nucleus of the atom, and focus on the electrons, that a molecule is an extremely complex thing. If you go further up in complexity, an organic molecule is even more highly complex. Get a lot of these various macromolecules together and you might get a cell in all its complexity. Go beyond a cell and you get a single celled, or a multi-celled organism; go beyond that and you get a human being: an extremely complex thing interacting with its environment. But put two of these human beings in a room together, and you have a magnitude of complexity beyond our comprehension. And, then yet again, 7 billion of us, and you have chaos, or...order, after a kind.

Best wishes to all of you!
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