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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of April 11, 2011

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Lot’s o’ alliteration going on this week…

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

American philosopher, political theorist, and author Francis Fukuyama has written extensively on democratization and international political economy, issues crystallized cohesively on his first major work The End of History and the Last Man (1992). His foresight has been instrumental in charting the theoretic global course of political and economic liberalism, and how it may mark the final form of human government’s last ideological stage in the progression of sociocultural evolution. “What we may be witnessing,” Dr. Fukuyama reiterates, “is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

Fukuyama is not saying there will be no more turning points, as many have misread the title – we live in interesting enough times to refute that argument – but it has seemed to have provided him with an audacious springboard from which to launch a prolific series of books with varying subjects, from sociology to biotechnology, academic theory to economic development. The kind of mind that has a far-reaching grasp also has byzantine byways, complex causeways: Fukuyama’s deeply-felt political affiliation with the neoconservative movement spurs him to sign a letter after the 9/11 attacks imploring President Bush to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But by 2006 he had become an opponent both of the invasion of Iraq and of the neoconservative movement, which he decided to no longer support.

In any event, politics is not only the subject of Fukuyama’s new book The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution – it just happens to be volume one of two Grand Sweep Cat Crunchers. Particular focus is paid to politics among our primate ancestors, followed by the emergence amongst small hunter-gatherer groups — with the exploration of political order — from the earliest human societies. The first major social evolution, as Dr. Fukuyama’s saw it, was seen in the transition from hunter-gatherer bands to tribes, made possible by religious ideas that united large numbers of people in worship of a common ancestor. Since a tribe could quickly mobilize for warfare, bordering bands had to gather in tribes, too, or be overcome.

In any event, virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet most developed a centralized political state, or created governments that could establish and maintain uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Furthermore, Fukuyama doesn’t explain state formation solely from Western examples. China and India are foremost topics of discussion, as is medieval Islam, where military slavery offered a way out of the tribalism of Arabs and Turks and produced successive empires — the Mamluks and Ottomans — that endured for centuries. Choosing from an array of issues — history, economics, archaeology, evolutionary biology — Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers novel insights on the origins of democratic societies and prompts vital questions about The Origins of Political Order.


Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent’s Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice
by Fred Burton

Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them
by Randy Christensen

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone
by Melissa Coleman

The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives
by Katie Couric

Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide
by Stacey Edgar

Errol Flynn: The True Adventures of a Real-Life Rogue
by Lincoln Douglas Hurst

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail
by Caitlin Kelly

The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture
by Joshua Kendall

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
by Steven Levy

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
by Wendy McClure

A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life
by Deval Patrick

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72
by Molly Peacock

This Is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx
by Nikki Sixx

Signs of Life: A Memoir
by Natalie Taylor

Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America
by Marshall Ulrich and Christopher McDougall



The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide
by Stephenie Meyer

Chasing Fire
by Nora Roberts

Gone with a Handsomer Man
by Michael Lee West

Save Me
by Lisa Scottoline

The Gathering
by Kelley Armstrong

One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson Series #7) (First Edition)
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Midnight and the Meaning of Love
by Sister Souljah

Hiss of Death (Mrs. Murphy Series #19)
by Rita Mae Brown

A Kingdom Besieged (Chaoswar Saga Series #1)
by Raymond E. Feist

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