Samuel Finer's is not only a major contribution to the history of governance in the ancient world; it is, in certain crucial respects, the only one. This essay surveys the uses of history within the discipline of political science to establish that surprising conclusion. In certain other social sciences—most notably in economics and above all in sociology—numerous leading scholars have applied the theories of their disciplines to illuminate the study of past civilizations while using data from those periods as a check on contemporary theories. Political scientists have, however, rarely ventured into world history before the eighteenth century. This essay considers some possible explanations for that discrepancy, then delineates and assesses Finer's massive and penetrating exploration of some 5000 years of institutional governmental history.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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