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

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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

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 constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today's developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling 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.

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About the author

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He has previously taught at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. He was a researcher at the RAND Corporation and served as the deputy director in the State Department's policy planning staff. He is the author of The End of History and the Last Man, Trust, and America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. He lives with his wife in California.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Apr 12, 2011
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Pages
608
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ISBN
9781429958936
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Language
English
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Genres
History / World
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The classic study of post-Cold War international relations, more relevant than ever in the post-9/11 world, with a new foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Since its initial publication, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has become a classic work of international relations and one of the most influential books ever written about foreign affairs. An insightful and powerful analysis of the forces driving global politics, it is as indispensable to our understanding of American foreign policy today as the day it was published. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says in his new foreword to the book, it “has earned a place on the shelf of only about a dozen or so truly enduring works that provide the quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.”

Samuel Huntington explains how clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace but also how an international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. Events since the publication of the book have proved the wisdom of that analysis. The 9/11 attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the threat of civilizations but have also shown how vital international cross-civilization cooperation is to restoring peace. As ideological distinctions among nations have been replaced by cultural differences, world politics has been reconfigured. Across the globe, new conflicts—and new cooperation—have replaced the old order of the Cold War era.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order explains how the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics. These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideals, and intensify intercivilization conflict over such issues as nuclear proliferation, immigration, human rights, and democracy. The Muslim population surge has led to many small wars throughout Eurasia, and the rise of China could lead to a global war of civilizations. Huntington offers a strategy for the West to preserve its unique culture and emphasizes the need for people everywhere to learn to coexist in a complex, multipolar, muliticivilizational world.
Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
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