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.
In this important book, which deserves to be widely read and debated, political economists Chinn (The Economic Integration of Greater China) and Frieden (Global Capitalism) argue that the 2007-2009 world financial crisis was made in America, because the U.S. ignored advice about indebtedness that it had given to other countries over the years. The time has now come for Americans to accept the implications of this situation and discuss it with other governments. In Chinn and Frieden's view, it is not debt per se, but what the debt is used for, that is key. They provide historical evidence to support their claim that if debt is invested by the government and private industry to raise profitability, then it is not problematic. This has not been the case in the recent past. Instead debt was used to create a speculative bubble, which led to what the authors call the bankruptcy of the financial system. They make the powerful case that the $12 trillion bail-out of the busted banks has been wasted. Absent a multi-trillion employment and investment program, there are very tough times ahead.