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

  • by Francis Fukuyama
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis
  • Series: Political Order
  • 22 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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

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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- blah

Few forests, but lots of trees

When I taught at university level, I quickly discovered how few academics knew how to explain anything concisely. They are asked a question, or the state a goal for their discussion, and proceed to give an answer that may technically be correct, but is not very helpful to the listener.

This the exact sort of feel I got from this book. Fukuyama promises a book about the origins of political structures in general, but instead presents us a book loaded with extraneous (albeit probably accurate) details, so much so that any sort of generalization that he wants to draw attention to get lost in the trees. After some preliminary information about biology and prehistory (which is written well), the author launches into an hours-long description of China, including many, *many* details about the country, its people, and its history, and the evolution of its government. Great if I wanted to know all about China and its governmental history, but not so good if I am looking for something more succinct and generalizeable. If Fukuyama tried drawing any sort of general principle out of this whole discussion, I missed it, buried among tons of details. Where's the focus?

The author then continues this pattern with India and then the Ottoman Empire, heaping on the detail while obfuscating his main points.

I did find some of the detail very interesting, I'll admit, and he does a pretty good job at presenting some of the topics. For example, his discussion of slave armies is very good indeed, as is his discussion of religion on the Indian subcontinent and how it affected the formation of some parts of government.

But in the end, I got tired of slogging through all the unfocused detail, which in the end led me to stop listening about 75% of the way through.
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- Steve Pagano

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-27-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios