The "Arab Spring" was heralded and publicly embraced by foreign leaders of many countries that define themselves by their own historic revolutions. The contributors to this volume examine the legitimacy of these comparisons by exploring whether or not all modern revolutions follow a pattern or script. Traditionally, historians have studied revolutions as distinct and separate events. Drawing on close familiarity with many different cultures, languages, and historical transitions, this anthology presents the first cohesive historical approach to the comparative study of revolutions.
This volume argues that the American and French Revolutions provided the genesis of the revolutionary "script" that was rewritten by Marx, which was revised by Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution, which was revised again by Mao and the Chinese Communist Revolution. Later revolutions in Cuba and Iran improvised further. This script is once again on display in the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa, and it will serve as the model for future revolutionary movements.
About the authors
Keith M. Baker is Professor of Early Modern European History at Stanford University. His books include What's Left of Enlightenment? and Inventing the French Revolution.
Dan Edelstein is Professor of French and History at Stanford University. He is the author of The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution, which won the 2009 Oscar Kenshur Book Prize.
"The comparative study of revolutions has been left to sociologists and political scientists for too long. This book is long overdue and will undoubtedly become a landmark in the comparative study of revolutions and a spur to further research on revolutions."
—Darrin McMahon, Dartmouth College
"An important and exciting book in several respects, this volume provides a rare opportunity for today's historians to engage in some hard-nosed, systematic comparative history in a highly constructive manner while greatly widening their own personal perspective on the spectrum of modern revolutions. It also makes a splendid teaching tool."
—Jonathan Israel, H-France
"Keith Michael Baker and Dan Edelstein have edited an important and timely book that reassesses how the concept of revolution has evolved over the past three centuries....[T]he editors are right to insist that humanists can and should get back into the comparative revolutions business."
—Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Journal of Modern History