End of History and the Last Man

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Overview

Fukuyama's profound inquiry leads the reader to the question of whether humanity will eventually reach a stable state in which it is at last completely satisfied, or whether there is something about the condition of humans that will always lead them to smash this ultimate equilibrium and plunge the world back into chaos.

Fukuyama's profound inquiry leads the reader to the question of whether humanity will eventually reach a stable state in which it is at last completely satisfied, or whether there is something about the condition of humans that will always lead them to smash this ultimate equilibrium and plunge the world back into chaos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a broad, ambitious work of political philosophy, a three-week PW bestseller in cloth, Fukuyama asserts that history is directional and that its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
In 1989, The National Interest published "The End of History?" by Fukuyama, then a senior official at the State Department. In that comparatively short but extremely controversial article, Fukuyama speculated that liberal democracy may constitute the "end point of mankind's ideological evolution" and hence the "final form of human government." Now Fukuyama has produced a brilliant book that, its title notwithstanding, takes an almost entirely new tack. To begin with, he examines the problem of whether it makes sense to posit a coherent and directional history that would lead the greater part of humanity to liberal democracy. Having answered in the affirmative, he assesses the regulatory effect of modern natural science, a societal activity consensually deemed cumulative as well as directional in its impact. Turning next to a "second, parallel account of the historical process," Fukuyama considers humanity's struggle for recognition, a concept articulated and borrowed (from Plato) by Hegel. In this context, he goes on to reinterpret culture, ethical codes, labor, nationalism, religion, war, and allied phenomena from the past, projecting ways in which the desire for acknowledgement could become manifest in the future. Eventually, the author addresses history's presumptive end and the so-called "last man," an unheroic construct (drawn from Tocqueville and Nietzsche) who has traded prideful belief in individual worth for the civilized comforts of self-preservation. Assuming the prosperity promised by contemporary liberal democracy indeed come to pass, Fukuyama wonders whether or how the side of human personality that thrives on competition, danger, and risk can be fulfilled in the sterileambiance of a brave new world. At the end, the author leaves tantalizingly open the matter of whether mankind's historical journey is approaching a close or another beginning; he even alludes to the likelihood that time travelers may well strike out in directions yet undreamt. An important work that affords significant returns on the investments of time and attention required to get the most from its elegantly structured theme.
From the Publisher
"Awesome...a landmark...profoundly realistic and important...supremely timely and cogent...the first book to fully fathom the depth and range of the changes now sweeping through the world."

— George Gilder, The Washington Post Book World

"Bold, lucid, scandalously brilliant. Until now, the triumph of the West was merely a fact. Fukuyama has given it a deep and highly original meaning."

— Charles Krauthammer

"Clearly written...Immensely ambitious...A tightly argued work of political philosophy...Fukuyama deserves to have his argument taken seriously."

— William H. McNeill, The New York Times Book Review

"Provocative and elegant...Complex and interesting...Fukuyama is to be applauded for posing important questions in serious and stimulating ways."

— Ronald Steel, USA Today

"Extraordinary...Controversial...A superb book. Whether or not one accepts his thesis, he has injected serious political philosophy into the discussion of political affairs and thereby significantly enriched it."

— Mackubin Thomas Owens, The Washington Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380720026
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Pages: 418
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 1999

    Fact or Fantasy? Fukuyama and his Hegel

    Mr. Fukuyama presents an interesting and thought provoking thesis with his interpretations of Hegel and Kojeve. He fails, however, to consider the realities of the political and social situations that are faced by the countries he investigates. Is the world really headed to a universal liberal democracy, a welfare state with a market economy? Fukuyama's arguments are a convincing extension of Hegelianism but do not address fundamental questions of the real regime.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2004

    Historians get apocolyptical

    If it were possible to reconcile Hegel with Nietzsche, Fukuyama has found a way - this is the primier book by Fukuyama and will give the reader a full look at his ideas. Detractors may call the book and even the thesis grandiose, unnecessary, or an indulgence with no clear grounded common sense. This latter is true, in that only those willing to learn about history can see how fukuyama posits to deal with it, in this regard in the course of his arguments, Fukuyama supplies the reader with more than adequate information, though it should not be new to the reader. The sidenote reason FOR historians has always been 'to understand our natures, to understand where our natures would lead us, not to repeat the mistakes of the past' - indeed in this most uncertain of times, when could it be more necessary to examine the past, to question democracy? Some of the most clear examples of how such a process is justified are given here, such as the Islamic Revolution in this century. Let no one believe Fukuyama is anything short of the foremost leader in this new field of thought, and it will assuredly open up an entirely new school of historical science.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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