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Synopsis

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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The Origins of Political Order
Average rating
4.3 / 5
A monumental tome on the development of nations
May 24th, 2015
This is volume 1 of a monumental 2-volume work on the development nations from prehistoric times to the present. Its scope is breath taking and looks at countries on every continent. The author's linkage of state development, bureaucracy and transparency (i.e. accountability) has made me look at government bureaucracy with less jaundiced eyes and a more open mind. Just one caveat: The author has a tendency to showcase the depth of his command of the English language by using words or expressions followed by, in paratheses, a dictionary definition of their meaning. But overall an eye opening treatise on how nations became what they are today.
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