The Dynamics and Meaning of Revolution in Twentieth-Century Europe

  • Tim Rees
  • Moira Donald
Part of the Themes in Focus book series (TIF)


The aim of this volume of essays is to examine political revolution in Europe during the twentieth century. The term ‘revolution’ has been widely applied to developments in areas as diverse as communications, information technology, medicine, science and travel, and indeed revolutions in these areas have arguably been of great significance in shaping European societies last century, but it is politics that is the focus of this present work. Nothing else has raised quite the same passions, or had the same significance, as the struggle to make fundamental and enforced changes to systems of government and the societies in which they are based. We have also limited our discussion to Europe, not because we feel that the revolutionary experiences in East Asia or Latin America, for example, are not significant, but because the global importance of political revolution necessitates some narrowing of scope. Despite confining the analysis of revolution to the European continent, we have still had to be selective for the purposes of a book of this length. Nevertheless, several of the chapters give some sense of the extra-European dimension to revolution and the final piece in the book is wholly devoted to an analysis of European revolutions in a world context.


Liberal Democracy Communist Regime Revolutionary Actor Political Left Political Revolution 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    J. Dunn, Modern Revolutions: an Introduction to the Analysis of a Political Phenomenon (Cambridge, 1972), pp. 11–12.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This point is also strongly made in a recent book, F. Halliday, Revolution and World Politics: the Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power (London, 1999), esp. pp. 234–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. One of the most ambitious attempts to interpret history in terms of the impact of revolutions is the comparative study by Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (London, 1966).Google Scholar
  4. Two different comments upon it are provided by L. Stone, The Past and the Present Revisited, 2nd edn (London, 1987), pp. 154–65Google Scholar
  5. and T. Skocpol et al. (eds), Democracy, Revolution and History (New York, 1998), esp. pp. 1–25.Google Scholar
  6. A recent volume reproducing articles on revolution, with an interesting introduction and bibliographical survey, is provided by A. J. Groth (ed.), Revolution and Revolutionary Change (Aldershot, 1996), esp. pp. xiii-xl.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 1789–1848 (London, 1962) narrows the period even further.Google Scholar
  8. Interestingly a recent textbook by A. Todd, Revolutions, 1789–1917 (Cambridge, 1998), presents just this classical conception of European revolution.Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution (London, 1953), pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    Compare, for instance, F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London, 1992)Google Scholar
  11. J. Lucacs, The End of the Twentieth Century and the End of the Modern Age (1993).Google Scholar
  12. C. Tilly, European Revolutions, 1492–1992 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 1–4 recognises that the revolutions of 1989–91 showed that revolution was not at an end in Europe.Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    K. Kumar, Revolution: the Theory and Practice of a European Idea (London, 1971), p. 7.Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    J. De Fronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, 2nd edn (Boulder, Colo., 1996), p. 8.Google Scholar
  15. Similar points are made in D. Close and C. Bridge, Revolution: a History of the Idea (London, 1985).Google Scholar
  16. 10.
    See R. Porter and M. Teich (eds), Revolution in History (Cambridge, 1986).Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    Comment on this can be found in J. Goldstone (ed.), Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative and Historical Studies, 2nd edn (San Diego, Calif., 1996).Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolution (Cambridge, 1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Other recent examples include T. Skocpol, Social Revolution in the Modern World (Cambridge, 1994);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. J. Goldstone et al. (eds), Revolutions of the Late Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1991);Google Scholar
  21. M. S. Kimmel, Revolution: a Sociological Interpretation (Cambridge, 1990).Google Scholar
  22. 15.
    A still interesting study of the origins of revolutions is provided by T. Gurr, Why Men Rebel (Princeton, 1970).Google Scholar
  23. 19.
    M. N. Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves (New York, 1997) and Halliday, Revolution and World Politics, esp. pp. 56–132.Google Scholar
  24. 20.
    For recent overviews of the Comintern see K. McDermott with J. Agnew, The Comintern: International Communism from Lenin to Stalin (London, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. T. Rees and A. Thorpe (eds), International Communism and the Communist International, 1919–1943 (Manchester, 1998).Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    See P. Pilbeam, The Middle Classes in Europe, 1789–1914 (London, 1990), pp. 235–93.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    See also the comments of T. Kimer, ‘The Inevitability of Future Revolutionary Surprises’, American Journal of Sociology, 100 (1995), pp. 1528–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© The Editor(s) 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Rees
  • Moira Donald

There are no affiliations available

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