- Hardcover: 494 pages
- Publisher: Facts on File; First Edition edition (January 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081603236X
- ISBN-13: 978-0816032365
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,046,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Encyclopedia of Revolutions and Revolutionaries: From Anarchism to Zhou Enlai First Edition Edition
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This encyclopedia focuses on revolution as a historical movement and its impact as a social and political force for change. More than 500 entries by an international team of scholars cover significant revolutionary periods. The one-page introduction tries to put the phenomenon of revolution in historical context. It states that "the entries range from antiquity, e.g., the Spartacus Rebellion and the revolt of Palmyra against Rome, all the way to the most recent coups and countercoups in the Middle East, and from sophisticated ideologies that have changed the world, such as Marxism, down to the slogans that have served Third World strongmen in carrying out this or that revolt." All continents of the world are covered, except Australia, which has never had a revolution.
The entries are arranged alphabetically and include a mix of biographical sketches of revolutionaries, historical articles recounting rebellions and revolutions throughout history, and descriptions of different types of revolutions and resistance movements (e.g., Black Consciousness Movement, Fascism). They range in length from one paragraph (e.g., Afrikaner Band of Brothers) to eight pages (French Revolution). The encyclopedia contains entries for individuals not thought of as revolutionaries, such as Corazon Aquino and Nicolae Ceausescu. People from the arts, such as Bertolt Brecht and Wagner, who supported revolutions through their work, are also treated. Black-and-white portraits are provided for such people as Trotsky and Thomas Jefferson. The encyclopedia also has some curious omissions. There are no entries for the great religious leaders (for example, Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad) who might be considered revolutionaries.
The entries are followed by a bibliography and an index. The 24-page bibliography is divided into several sections: general, political ideologies, and geographic by continent and region. It would have been more helpful to the reader to have put the bibliographic references after specific entries. The index is just a list of cross-references, with no page numbers. A separate chronological index arranges the entries by date.
This book will be useful to patrons seeking a popular treatment of the subject. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.
About the Author
Martin van Creveld is a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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The entry on Ernesto (Che) Guevara is a case in point. Guevara is lionized to the degree that his entry becomes a virtual hagiography of the fallen, flawed and communist revolutionary. For example, Guevara did very little work as a physician contrary to what the authors lead you to believe. The entry also contains a factual error that "Batista sent a train load of troops to recapture Oriente Province. In a pitch two-hour battle, Guevara captured the train." In fact, the province and battle took place in Santa Clara in the center of Cuba, not in Oriente Province at the eastern end of the island.
The entries on the French Revolution and the Convention are also very tilted toward sympathy for the radical Jacobins. Consider the praise that the authors heap upon the Jacobins:
"The Jacobin leaders, ruling by means of the Jacobin Club in Paris which met daily on the Rue Saint Honore and the Convention's Committee of Public Safety sitting in the Tuileries, controlled the two organs of power. They gave France the most effective democratic government it has ever known, enabling it to wage all-out war against most of Europe while at the same time succeeding in crushing the Catholic and Royalist Vendee as well as the federe revolt which the Girondins had been able to keep alive in two-thirds of the French provinces."
Suffice to say, that if this whole statement were true, then it would be an indictment of democracy and self-determination. And, it equates France's "most effective democratic government" with dictatorship, militarism, and an utterly repressive regime -- not to mention the Reign of Terror by which it ruled!
Yet, Chiang Kai-Shek is treated very fairly, which was pleasantly surprising, for a man who moved from Left to Right in the political spectrum. Surprising too was the description of the Indonesia Coup of 1965. Despite excellent coverage of this momentous revolution, we find that although President Sukarno has a separate entry later in the book, General Suharto does not!
As to the good points, let's reiterate that it's a very comprehensive tome that includes a number of entries, obscure Chinese as well as Arab and Middle Eastern revolutionaries galore. You feel as if no revolutionary has been left out, particularly of the socialist persuasion. No one, from ancient to modern times, seems to have been forgotten. The reader will be delighted to find that anarchists are also well covered. One is also delighted to find this gem, an obscure but instructive entry on the Argos Revolution:
"In 370 B.C., civil strife (stasis) broke out in Argos, which had a democratic regime. The masses were instigated by a number of demagogues against the very rich citizens....Thirty of the most distinguished citizens were put to death and their property was confiscated. The demagogues kept on inciting the mob, which condemned to death more than 12,000 rich men, who were then beaten to death. When the demagogues wished to stop the accusations against the well-to-do, the masses turned against them as well and all of them were put to death...."
In short, the book is recommended as a useful reference for history scholars as well as reading fans of revolutions and revolutionaries, with the caveat that much of the text is written by scholars, who have slight to moderate bias toward liberal politics and socialism and view these events through the special rose-colored glasses to which they have become accustomed in their academic environments.
Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is the author of Cuba in Revolution - Escape from a Lost Paradise (2002) and the essays, "Stalin's Mysterious Death" (2011), "Stalin, Communists and Fatal Statistics (2011), The Political Spectrum: The Totalitarian Left from Communism to Social Democracy to the Extreme Right, Anarchism (2011) and other essays on these topics.