The second volume of the bestselling landmark work on the history of the modern state
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, David Gress called Francis Fukuyama's Origins of Political Order "magisterial in its learning and admirably immodest in its ambition." In The New York Times Book Review, Michael Lind described the book as "a major achievement by one of the leading public intellectuals of our time." And in The Washington Post, Gerard DeGrott exclaimed "this is a book that will be remembered. Bring on volume two."
Volume two is finally here, completing the most important work of political thought in at least a generation. Taking up the essential question of how societies develop strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions, Fukuyama follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West.
A sweeping, masterful account of the struggle to create a well-functioning modern state, Political Order and Political Decay is destined to be a classic.
The distinction between strong and accountable government is seen as a driver of history in this second volume of the author's magisterial study of politics and the state. Following up The Origins of Political Order, Stanford scholar Fukuyama surveys political developments of the past 250 years, from the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, focusing on the often clashing imperatives of democratic accountability, rule of law, and effective governmental administration. Organizing his commentary around these three themes, Fukuyama addresses an enormous range of moments in political history, paying close attention to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as to the West. (The U.S. figures less as a paragon than as a governmental slacker whose current problems with legislative gridlock, corruption, and chaotic administration-by-lawsuit makes it an exemplar of political decay.) Fukuyama's erudition is complemented by lucid, graceful prose and an inveterate even-handedness that fairly assesses liberal, conservative, and Marxist traditions; giving material influences their due without lapsing into economic reductionism and treating politics and governance as an autonomous realm with its own ideological and institutional dynamics. His superb synthesis of political science and history will be useful to experts as well as students and laypeople.