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The Anatomy of Revolution Mass Market Paperback – August 12, 1965

ISBN-13: 978-0394700441 ISBN-10: 0394700449 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Revised edition (August 12, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394700449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394700441
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A comparative history of the English, American, French and Russian revolutions. Bibliographical appendix, index.

Customer Reviews

A real winner and a highly recommended book.
Mark Bell
A thoughtful well documented argument about the conditions necessary for revolution, and what revolutions have in common.
David Singer
You'll get just as much out of it and perhaps gain a clearer understanding.
Andrew Kotila (

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on July 29, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Brinton's Anatomy of a Revolution is based on a brilliant premise - that all revolutions go through specific "stages." Using the English, French, and Russian revolutions and the American War for Independence as his models, he seeks to show common threads between the four of them.
However, there are some flaws in his thesis. As one reader pointed out, Brinton never defines what a "revolution" is - a problem especially given the fact that many do not consider the American Revolution a revolution at all. But beyond this point, there are problems as well. His model does not fit each revolution very well - especially the English Revolution's "Thermidorian Reaction" (which Brinton uses to describe the "calm" after the relative chaos and violence one usually associates with revolution.) His argument on the origins of revolution is similarly does not fit all revolutions well.
However, it is a fascinating read, and Brinton does a remarkable job in briefly and succinctly summarizing each revolution, their causes and the major players and events in them. This, if for no other reason makes it a worthwhile read.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Antonucci on November 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A former teacher, who had used this book in the mid-sixties in her social studies class, introduced me to Crane Brinton's work. The Anatomy of Revolution provides the perfect companion for high school educators who want to step away from the stodgy lecture method of teaching the English, French, American, and Russian revolutions. The book is invaluable for assisting in creating lesson plans that discuss the characteristics and commonalities of revolutions. Once learned, a model can be created that students can use to analyze and evaluate any of the world's major and minor revolutions. Crane Brinton's book is a "must have" for any high school social studies teacher interested in creating similar lessons on the topic of revolution that foster higher levels of learning.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on February 25, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have always been an avid student of the great modern revolutions both as a matter of practical politics and in order to glean some insights into how they have affected human history. In short, how the ideas and practice of those revolutions have acted as nodal points on the further progress of humankind. Crane Brinton's little book was probably the first book I read that tried to put that idea into some kind of order. While some of the material in the book is dated and some has been superseded by events and further research every serious student of comparative revolutions depends in some way or another on his pioneering methodology.

Brinton took the four great revolutions of his time (the Chinese Revolution had not occurred when he originally wrote the book)-the English of the 17th century, the French and American of the 18th century and the Russian of the 20th century and drew some common conclusions from them. Here the American Revolution acted as a kind of control for viewing the others. While no one would deny that each great revolution had its own perculiarities some lessons, so to speak, can be drawn from the various experiences.

Brinton traced the role of ideas, all kinds of ideas, some fanciful some serious that accompanied the dawn of every pre-revolutionary period as those who want to make a revolution or at least change things got a hearing from layers of society that they would not have gotten in more stable times. He also noted that the old regimes had run out of steam both in ideas and personnel, as exemplified by those who ruled at the time of revolutionary upheaval.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M; Jones on July 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While it is true that comparisons of the American and English, especially the American, with the Russian and French Revolutions are very imperfect, theories proposed by Britton in

examining these revolutions are interesting. One of the most valuable ideas of his is that revolutions tend not to occur when things are really horrid, but when they are getting better. This concept proposes a tool for examining socities and predicting the future. This is consistent with the urban riots of the late 1960s with the rights gained by Blacks as opposed to the absence of such riots under Jim Crow. This could be expected using Britton's analytical tool. Another valuable concept is the return of the old order, perhaps in a different form, following the revolution, therefore Stalin follows the Czars and the First Empire after the killing of the king. Britton offers King George and the re-establishment of central authority by the Constitution, court rulings and such as an American comparison. This is really stretching a valuable idea. The British king before the revolution was certainly not a tyrant in North America. In fact the Royal Governor in Virginia was so popular that his statue still stands in front of the Wren building at William and Mary, as it did before the revolution. To compare the power of the Georges in America to that of the Czars is stretching a point. But to compare George Washington, John Adams and John Marshal to Stalin is absurd. Britton's real point is that centralization followed centralization. As Patrick Henry said of the Constittution "I smell a rat." Of course the centralization of power in Washington today is vastly greater than it ever was before 1776. The analytical tools Britton proposes are useful in predicting what will happen in particular situations , but they cannot be applied in the manner of

mathamatical formulars predicting physical, chemical or even biologic events.
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