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Publisher's Summary

Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions that 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 unable to function in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.
Francis Fukuyama, author of the best-selling The End of History and The Last Man, and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today’s basic political institutions developed.
The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.
Drawing on a vast body of knowledge—history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics—Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.
©2011 Francis Fukuyama (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Fukuyama writes a crystalline prose that balances engaging erudition with incisive analysis. As germane to the turmoil in Afghanistan as it is to today's congressional battles, this is that rare work of history with up-to-the-minute relevance." ( Publishers Weekly)
“Political theorist Francis Fukuyama’s new book is a major accomplishment, likely to find its place among the works of seminal thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke, and modern moral philosophers and economists such as John Rawls and Amartya Sen . . .It is a perspective and a voice that can supply a thinker’s tonic for our current political maladies.” (Earl Pike, The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Ambitious and highly readable.” ( The New Yorker)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By blah on 05-12-13

Best Summary of Political History I've Read

This book is simply amazing. As a political science major in college and graduate school, I've read a ton of histories and evaluations of politics but nothing comes close to this work. Fukuyama writes a complete and thorough analysis of human politics that is full of in depth case studies and insightful information. I would definitely recomend this book not only to poli sci students but also anyone wishing to know the origins of our political order.

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41 of 41 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Luke on 01-24-13

Compelling historical narrative of state formation

What did you love best about The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution?

Fukuyama begins by describing pre-state human social groups--and human biology--to be used as a foundation for the rest of his compelling theory for how states are formed--or rather were formed in history. His historical account of the development of states in China, India, the Ottoman empire, and Europe demonstrates that the road of state formation varies greatly, and is not at all purely progressive. The outcome of state formation is also varied (as we can see in the modern world).

If nothing else, the first half of this book is a great overview of the development of different societies. Fascinating. And really not dry.

Fukuyama is just detailed enough to make his theories convincing, one being that central components for a modern political state as we see in Western democracies require: a strong state, the rule of law, and state accountability to all citizens. Many states have one or more of these things, but every modern political order must have them all.

His whole book is a build up to an upcoming second volume which will describe why in modern times state formation can proceed more directly and purposely than it has in history: with so much violence and suffering.This first volume is interesting, but is not directly relevant for understanding the workings of modern states we currently live in. Such insight I believe will come in the next volume. Still, a fascinating read!

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

This is a narrative--the author's narrative--of how states formed in history. And it reads like a narrative. It's not exactly a light read, but the strong narrative aspects make it a very compelling read.

What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Davis narration is very clear with perfect pronunciation of works in other languages (well, as far as I can tell). His pace is great and his emphasis of works in sentences actually helps in understanding what Fukuyama is saying.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Fukuyam's insight of the pre-conditions for a modern liberal capitalist state is convincing and based not just on his historical research, but a solid socio-political philosophy as well.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By duhhh on 12-14-16

Best explanation of pre-modern Humanity

The audiobook covers all of political history starting from the start of history progressing from bands to tribes to states, covering up till the American revolution. To do this it focuses on different countries showing how they have changed since the dawn of time, all the while taking from their actions political rules/doctrine that could be used to build a functioning society.


Pros
- Detailed historical timeline with commentary and attempts at looking at causation rather than just reading it verbatim
- Amazing look at how to build a political socket
- Tries to take into account all variety of thoughts and process of the time to analyse the outcome
- Completely compellingly, I couldn't stop listening

Cons
-Sometimes some more of the complex words used aren't explained as some of the others are leading for you to look it up.
-Need a lot of free time 31 hours of content
-Lots of names and societies to remember.
.
Overall I feel its a must listen for anyone who is interested in politics, also for people who aren't in politics so they can understand how different cultures have been shaped over time. Also as to why some developing countries are being held back.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By malit on 03-10-18

Very much like a textbook

I bought this audiobook after listening to Henry Kissinger' book on political order and expected something more similar or closer to "The Silk Roads" by Peter Frankopan.

The Origins of Political Order appeared to be more theoretical and feels more like a textbook for a student of political science. The story is interesting, but first few chapters, infused with evolutionary theories and comparisons of human and chimps don't sound too convincing. Later chapters based on proper facts about civilisations bring many interesting facts and conclusions (I.e. comparison of china and India), but overall are heavy in theory, especially when it comes to describing laws and politics.

Don't expect an easy read to listen before you go to sleep- it's a book which will require your attention if you want to keep up with author's reasoning.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Shane on 05-29-16

Good Synthesis

This book was pretty ambitious as far as topic was concerned. By looking at many different cultures and time periods, it really got down to the core of the common themes of political orders. I really enjoyed how they gave equal time to topics like Indian and Chinese culture, which is usually overlooked in historical/political works.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Andrew on 01-15-18

Engaging and highly enlightening

The book was absolutely wonderful. It opened a huge number of doors of thought and left me with much to think about.

The first 3rd where the author talks at length on China and India was initially quite hard to push through. However push through and you quickly see that this section sets the stage for the truly enlightening conclusions drawn in the later chapters.

Well worth the investment of time

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