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The Romanian Revolution of December 1989

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801473890
ISBN-10: 0801473896
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Siani-Davies has reconstructed the rush of events during these three revolutionary weeks literally hour by hour. The effect is to draw the reader in as if he or she were there, while at the same time soaring above and viewing the overall flow and structure of a revolution. In short, Siani-Davies has done more than provide an exceedingly fine-grained account of the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime; he has given students of revolution an example with all the inner mechanics exposed."―Foreign Affairs, September/October 2005

"Among the Communist governments in eastern Europe that collapsed, nowhere was the overthrow as violent and blood as in the Romanian revolution of 1989, which cost more than 1,000 lives. Peter Siani-Davies, utilizing a wide variety of Romanian sources, has written a detailed history of the revolution that brought the overthrow of the Communist government in Romania and the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena on Christmas Day, 1989."―Keith Eubank, The Virginia Quarterly Review

"Here is a remarkable portal to a crossroad in contemporary politics for Romanian aficionados and Cold War history buffs. Peter Siani-Davies touches western and southern urban locales in focusing on the immediate background and aftermath of Nicolae Ceausescu's overthrow. He critically assesses evidence gleaned from Romanian newspapers and offers probabilities and possibilities for matters still awaiting the disclosure of primary records."―Frederick Kellogg, Slavic Review, Summer 2006

"Splendidly researched and compellingly argued, this book is an original and persuasive contribution to our understanding of the collapse of Ceausescu's dictatorship, the December 1989 revolutionary upheaval, and the difficult birth of democracy in Romania. It is mandatory reading for all those interested in a luminously sophisticated approach to the myths and realities of the Romanian Revolution."―Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland, author of Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism

"Finally, a near-definitive account of how Ceausescu fell! This fascinating book shows that this was indeed a classic revolution. It was violent, mass based, and it deeply transformed Romania. Peter Siani-Davies has made a valuable addition to the analytic literature on mass political movements. Impeccably documented and reasoned, his book will provide comparative students of revolution enormous amounts of material. We rarely get such detailed accounts of how various leaders, factions, and ordinary people are swept up in chaotic circumstances they often do not quite understand. In Romania, the outcome was deliverance from a stultifying tyranny, but this study makes it clear that chance and human errors play a role in determining outcomes, though underlying structural and historical factors ultimately count even more."―Daniel Chirot, Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace

From the Back Cover

"Splendidly researched and compellingly argued, this book is an original and persuasive contribution to our understanding of the collapse of Ceausescu's dictatorship, the December 1989 revolutionary upheaval, and the difficult birth of democracy in Romania. It is mandatory reading for all those interested in a luminously sophisticated approach to the myths and realities of the Romanian Revolution."--Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland, author of Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism

"Finally, a near-definitive account of how Ceausescu fell! This fascinating book shows that this was indeed a classic revolution. It was violent, mass based, and it deeply transformed Romania. Peter Siani-Davies has made a valuable addition to the analytic literature on mass political movements. Impeccably documented and reasoned, his book will provide comparative students of revolution enormous amounts of material. We rarely get such detailed accounts of how various leaders, factions, and ordinary people are swept up in chaotic circumstances they often do not quite understand. In Romania, the outcome was deliverance from a stultifying tyranny, but this study makes it clear that chance and human errors play a role in determining outcomes, though underlying structural and historical factors ultimately count even more."--Daniel Chirot, Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801473896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801473890
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I was 11 years old during the revolution and I vividly recall standing next to my father in the public square in front of our town's communist party headquarters on December 22 or 23. Since then, I've read about a handful of book-length accounts of the revolution, though only in Romanian. I was pleased to find this work on Amazon, as most other English-language treatments of the events seem to be found only in academic journals or are otherwise difficult to obtain.

The book's seven chapters deal with: the general picture of Romanian society in the 1980's (1), the spark and initial days of the revolution (2), the street fighting that occurred after the Ceausescus' flight (3), the thorny issues of who caused the deadly fighting and whether any political conspiracies triggered the revolution (4), the establishment of a new political regime and its many fractures (5 and 6), and a theoretical discussion of how to categorize and write about the events of late '89-early '90 in Romania.

The author keeps a balanced stance throughout (which is particularly important in treating this subject, as more than half of Romanians nowadays do not consider that a "true" revolution took place in '89 and a variety of descriptions of the events are in circulation). The account of the events of the revolution themselves (chapters 2 and 3) make for a particularly stick-to-the-facts, yet lively, read. All in all, the book provides a great overview of the revolution and all of its social and political aspects, and pays particular attention to those thorny issues that are, as of yet, unresolved for the vast majority of Romanians.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any event that is as chaotic as the 1989 Romanian Revolution is difficult to cover simply because there were so many different things going on in so many different places. Unlike the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which had a single planned goal, the one in Romania seemed to have multiple goals that sprang up somewhat spontaneously.

The book does an excellent job of trying to discuss the many various parts of the turmoil, devoting most of its attention to the events in Bucharest before, during, and immediately after December 1989. It did this effectively within the constraints of the book's 315 pages. The book's concluding chapters deal with the founding of the NSF (National Salvation Front) in the midst of the hectic days just before Christmas 1989.

In my personal opinion, the NSF was simply a rehash of the old communism that the people who participated in the revolution were attempting to overthrow. Communism didn't die with the revolution nor with the execution of its dictator (Ceausescu). It simply grew a new head. But the book shows the sometimes amazing strength of the Romanian spirit to overcome the injustices visited upon them by their leaders.
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