Systematic, thorough and even hopeful fodder for reform-minded political observers.



In his companion to The Origins of the Political Order, the deeply engaged political scientist offers a compelling historical overview of a useful template for the retooling of institutions in the modern state.

Former neoconservative academic Fukuyama (International Studies/Stanford Univ.) is concerned about the functionality of government, specifically what he sees as the current “vetocracy” in the United States, which signals the beginning of political decay. Moving from the French Revolution onward and using myriad examples from Prussia to Nigeria, the author lays out the evolution of three essential political institutions: the state, the rule of law and democratic accountability. Fukuyama is commenting on (and updating) his teacher Samuel P. Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), in which Huntington argued that “before a polity could be democratic, it had to provide basic order”—e.g., the introduction of the Napoleonic Code in France. Fukuyama defines institutions, after Huntington, as “stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior” around which humans act for the greater good. Why have some countries developed stable institutions like public safety, a legal system and national defense while others have not? The author delves into the making of the first stable and effective modern states, notably in Prussia, where Calvinist doctrine infused in leaders a sense of austerity, thrift and intolerance of corruption, and spurred a substantial army and education and taxation systems. Elsewhere, particularly in Greece, Italy and Argentina, where stable institutions should have developed, states were stymied by an absence of social trust and by clientelism, which depends on patronage. Fukuyama also looks at the roles of geography, climate and colonialism. Shaking off patronage-laden bureaucracies, as Britain and America managed to do, is essential to a stable state. In the U.S., Fukuyama decries the creeping “repatrimonialization” in the form of lobbyists and special interest groups.

Systematic, thorough and even hopeful fodder for reform-minded political observers.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-22735-7

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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