No one has hitherto had the breadth of imagination and intellectual boldness to describe and analyse government throughout recorded history and throughout the world. This unique study of government is the culmination of the work of the late S. E. Finer, one of the leading political scientists of the twentieth century. Ranging over 5,000 years, from the Sumerian city state to the modern European nation state, five themes emerge: state-building, military
formats, belief systems, social stratification, and timespan. The three volumes examine both representative and exceptional polities, and focus on political elites of different types.
Ancient Monarchies and Empires opens with Finer's masterly Conceptual Prologue, setting out the entire scope and structure of The History. Books One and Two then consider early examples of the predominantly `palace' type of polity, notably in respect of the Kingdoms of Egypt and the Empires of Assyria, Persia, Han China, and Rome; interspersed with consideration of the `exceptional' Jewish Kingdoms and the Greek and Roman Republics. Professor Finer's cogent
descriptive analysis offers both an invaluable reference resource and an exhilarating journey across time and space.
`No review can fully capture the breadth and accessibility of S. E. Finer's posthumous magnum opus ... its clarity and readability must be emphasized ... Finer constantly reminds us of exceptions that explain the richness and diversity of polities.'
John R. Cramsie, History
`The range and sweep of these volumes are extraordinary, as is the verve and clarity of the writing. Finer's intellectual authority is maintained through the long but never wearisome journey from Sumerian city states to modern times.'
Times Educational Supplement
`This is political science on the grandest scale: three volumes that provide a history of successive forms of government throughout the world from the earliest times to the present day ... Finer presents material on political systems that most political scientists will be completely unfamiliar with, and gives fresh insights into systems that they might have thought they knew ... What makes it a great book, and one that deserves to be read by all students of
government, is Finer's remarkable ability to classify and compare across the entire universe of known systems of government. It is not simply the scholarship and erudition that is breathtaking, but also
the confident, clear and imaginative use of comparative tools to describe the significance of the systems of government.'
Edward Page, Public Policy
`Its encyclopedic summary of governments is a primer for students interested in a brief, literate introduction to governance in historical regimes. Its bibliographies provide a guide to studies of governance in each regime. For these reasons, large university research libraries may want to include it in their collections.'
Richard A. Brisbin, Jr., Perspectives on Political Science, Summer 1999, Vol.28 No.3
`The depth and reach of Finer's scholarship thus has produced a work so rich as to defy comprehensive ordering through any single comparative theoretical framework ... No member of the coming generation of comparativist political scientists and historians will be able to ignore Finer's great accomplishment. It is this which will come to be the greatest tribute to Finer's remarkable work, and no doubt one which he himself would have most strongly
John Power, University of Melbourne, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol 34, no 1
Series: The History of Government from the Earliest Times
Number Of Pages: 628
Published: 1st May 1997
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.3
Weight (kg): 1.18