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This volume places recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan to Tunisia and Egypt in historical context. It provides a history of revolutions and insurgencies, an introduction to the way social scientists think about the causes and outcomes of revolutions, and an explanation of their significance in historical and political change. Jack A. Goldstone begins with a brief history of revolutions and insurgencies, from the revolutions that brought democracy to Greek city-states and led to thefounding of Rome through the major peasant revolts of the Middle Ages in Europe and China, and the Independence revolts in the Americas. He also touches upon the insurgencies in Latin America (Zapatistas and FARC) and Asia (in Malaysia and the Philippines), whose failure is instructive in understanding why revolts succeed or fail. The book then discusses types of revolutions and their causes; the radical social revolutions in France, Russia, and China; the revolutions for independence in Indiaand Algeria; revolutions against dictators in Mexico, Cuba, and Iran; and the so-called color revolutions in Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Georgia. Goldstone considers some of the key revolutionary leaders of history where they came from, what inspired them, and how they changed their societies. A diverse range of popular groups have carried revolutions: peasants, miners, urban craftsmen, professionals, students, and mothers, all treated here. A chapter on insurgency and counter-insurgencycovers Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, Goldstone grapples with the outcomes of revolutions: whether they are associated with the rise of freedom and democracy, devastating ideological dictatorships, or something inconclusive. He examines the historical legacies of revolutions, in the areas of freedom, economic growth, women's rights, and minority rights. Revolutions have succeeded enough to feed dreams of freedom, but failed often enough to prompt caution.
Spanning the divide between Europe and Asia, Russia is a multi-ethnic empire with a huge territory, strategically placed and abundantly provided with natural resources. But Russia's territory has a harsh climate, is cut off from most maritime contact with the outside world, and has open and vulnerable land frontiers. It has therefore had to devote much of its wealth to the armed forces, and the sheer size of the empire has made it difficult to mobilise resources and to govern effectively, especially given the diversity of its people. In this Very Short Introduction, Geoffrey Hosking discusses all aspects of Russian history, from the struggle by the state to control society, the transformation of the empire into a multi-ethnic empire, Russia's relationship with the West/Europe, the Soviet experience, and the post-Soviet era. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Almost twenty years after the Soviet Union's end, what are we to make of its existence? Was it a heroic experiment, an unmitigated disaster, or a viable if flawed response to the modern world? What was the Soviet Union like? How did it evolve over seven decades? What was the relationship between the regime and the general population? This introduction blends political history with an investigation into the society and culture at the time. The author examines aspects of patriotism, mass culture, political violence, poverty, and ideology; and provides answers to some of the big questions about the Soviet experience.
As a giant of 20th century history, Mao Zedong played many roles: peasant revolutionary, patriotic leader against the Japanese occupation, Marxist theoretician, modernizer, and visionary despot. This Very Short Introduction chronicles Mao's journey from peasant child to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth. He was a founder of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Red Army, and for many years he fought on two fronts, for control of the Party and in an armed struggle for the Party's control of the country. His revolution unified China and began its rise to world power status. He was the architect of the Great Leap Forward that he hoped would make China both prosperous and egalitarian, but instead ended in economic disaster resulting in millions of deaths. It was Mao's growing suspicion of his fellow leaders that led him to launch the Cultural Revolution, and his last years were dogged by ill-health and his despairing attempts to find a successor whom he trusted. Delia Davin provides an invaluable introduction to Mao, showing him in all his complexity; ruthless, brutal, and ambitious, a man of enormous talent and perception, yet a leader who is still detested by some and venerated by others. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The gap between the rich and the poor can be vast. Robert C. Allen considers the main factors that contribute to this gap, looking at the interconnections between economic growth, culture, technology, and income distribution. Exploring the historical processes that have created the unequal world of today, he takes a global look at wealth worldwide.
No political concept is more used, and misused, than that of democracy. Nearly every regime today claims to be democratic, but not all 'democracies' allow free politics, and free politics existed long before democratic franchises. This book is a short account of the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, from ancient Greece and Rome through the American, French, and Russian revolutions, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world. It argues that democracy is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for good government, and that ideas of the rule of law, and of human rights, should in some situations limit democratic claims. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
'[William Doyle] writes on the French Revolution with more understanding, balance and clarity than any other historian, living or dead.' -Prof. Tim Blanning, University of Cambridge

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