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Life of Francis Fukuyama

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In February, 1989, Francis Fukuyama gave a talk on international relations at the University of Chicago. Fukuyama was thirty-six years old, and on his way from a job at the rand Corporation, in Santa Monica, where he had worked as an expert on Soviet foreign policy, to a post as the deputy director of policy planning at the State Department, in Washington.

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Fukuyama studied classics at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. (B.A., 1974), and political science at Harvard University (Ph.D., 1981). In 1979 he began a long-term association with the research organization RAND Corporation, in Santa Monica, California, and Washington, D.C. He later helped shape foreign policy for the U.S. Department of State (1981–82), specializing in Middle Eastern affairs and serving as a delegate to an Egyptian-Israeli conference on Palestinian autonomy. In 1987 he coedited The Soviet Union and the Third World: The Last Three Decades, and two years later he rejoined the State Department to focus on European political and military issues. He held a chair as professor at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, from 1996 to 2001. Fukuyama’s first major work, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), earned international acclaim and was widely read by both the mainstream public and academics. His thesis—introduced as a magazine article in 1989, when communism in eastern Europe was collapsing—posited that Western-style liberal democracy not only was the victor of the Cold War but marked the last ideological stage in the long march of history. He traced parallel tracks with his follow-up books: Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (1995), which was popular in the business market; and The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order (1999), a conservative look at American society in the second half of the 20th century. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, critics of his thesis argued that Islamic fundamentalism threatened the hegemony of the West. Fukuyama dismissed them, however, by arguing that the attacks were part of “a series of rearguard actions” against what he believed was the prevailing political philosophy of the new globalism.

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In the long run, Dr. Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest, which he helped to found in 2005. He holds honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Doane College, Doshisha University (Japan), Kansai University (Japan), and Aarhus University (Denmark), and the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He is a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and at the Center for Global Development. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Pardee Rand Graduate School and the Volcker Alliance. He is a member of the American Political Science Association and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is married to Laura Holmgren and has three children.

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