Understanding Revolution

We are watching revolution (and history being made) as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other citizens demand change in their leadership.  It is amazing to live in a time when we have immediate access to information and events as they unfold.  What we don’t always have is some historical context and nuanced understanding of the events we are seeing.  Revolution is happening today and has been happening for thousands of years.  To get some perspective let’s look at some Revolutions and the people who experienced them.

Egypt : A Short History / Robert L. Tignor 

 A rich account of the tumultuous history of Egypt from Greek and Roman conquests, the rise of Christianity, Egypt’s incorporation into powerful Islamic empires,  Napoleon’s 1798 invasion, the country’s absorption into the British Empire, and modern, postcolonial Egypt under Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak.   Princeton University Press

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Northern Africa [DVD] / Pilot Film   

Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya are explored, from the souks of Tripoli to the medieval streets of Fes and the Valley of the Kings. Globe Trekker takes you on a voyage through Northern Africa.  What are the people like, and what is their history?  This DVD selection helps give insight into the people and the places that are in the news.    DVD Masters

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Inside the Revolution / Joel C. Rosenberg

 Presents profiles of the radicals, the reformers, and the revivalists of the Middle East, explaining the implications of each movement and the importance of each leader through the lenses of politics, economics, and Scripture.  Rigorous research, travel and interviews with hundreds of Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders lends credibility to this survey of the spectrum of beliefs that drive foreign policy.     Publishers Weekly

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Welcome to the Urban Revolution / Jeb Brugmann

In the second half of the twentieth century, revolutions reshaped our world—the civil rights movement in America, the fall of the shah in Iran, the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the end of apartheid in South Africa. All of these revolutions were fundamentally urban. They were the revolutions of Detroit, Gdansk, Berlin, Tehran, and Johannesburg, uprisings of city dwellers intent on ending their marginalization and securing their place in the world economy.   McMillan Palgrave

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  To older revolutions…

Revolution 1989 : the Fall of the Soviet Empire / Victor Sebestyen

Documents the collapse of the Soviet Union’s European empire (East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria) and the transition of each to independent states, drawing on interviews and newly uncovered archival material to offer insight into 1989’s rapid changes and the USSR’s minimal resistance.   Baker & Taylor

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Mao Zedong and The Chinese Revolution / Corinne J. Naden

Combining biography with politics, this title discusses Chairman Mao Zedong’s rise to power and his crucial role in national and international history. The overview includes details about his revolutionary theories, with quotes from his Little Red Book (“Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun”) and talk about his differences with the Soviet Union, as well as his changing relationship with the West.   Booklist

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The Russian Revolution / Sheila Fitzpatrick

Impeccable in its scholarship and objectivity, this superb volume tells the gripping story of a Marxist revolution that was intended to transform the world, but instead visited enormous suffering on the Russian people, and, like the French Revolution before it, ended up devouring its own children.   Oxford University Press

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The Industrial Revolution / Lee T. Wyatt III

Presents a history of the Industrial Revolution, discussing the historical background, important inventions, and the roles played by significant figures.  Wyatt provides a history of the Industrial Revolution, with a focus on its most important aspects and impact, including the influence of the Agricultural Revolution, Great Britain’s role, and manifestations in the US, Europe, and the non-Western world.      Book News

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Children of the Revolution : the French, 1799-1914 / Robert Gildea

For those who lived in the wake of the French Revolution, from the storming of the Bastille to Napoleon’s final defeat, its aftermath left a profound wound that no subsequent king, emperor, or president could heal. Children of the Revolution follows the ensuing generations who repeatedly tried and failed to come up with a stable regime after the trauma of 1789.   Harvard University Press

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Or other kinds of revolution…

 The Revolution Will Not Be Televised : Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything / Joe Trippi

The incredible story of how Joe Trippi’s revolutionary use of the Internet forever changed politics as we know it. Trippi’s memoir cum manifesto offers a blueprint for engaging Americans in real dialogue—and is an instruction manual for how businesspeople, government leaders, and anyone else can make use of democracy.   Harper Collins

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Endgame: The Problem of Civilization /  Derrick Jensen

Activist Jensen’s absorbing and insightful writings and speeches have placed him in the vanguard of the environmental revolution. For some time, he tried to work within the system, but ultimately he realized that we cannot “vote our way to justice or shop our way to sustainability.” In this two-volume work, the final part of a rough trilogy that includes A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe , Jensen hopes to encourage those who care passionately about our planet’s ecological crisis to become more radical and militant.    Booklist

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Reflections on the Revolution in Europe : Immigration, Islam, and the West / Christopher Caldwell

Europe’s half-century of mass immigration has failed to produce anything resembling the American melting pot. By overestimating its need for immigrant labor and underestimating the culture-shaping potential of religion, Europe has trapped itself in a problem to which it has no obvious solution.   Random House

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The Wikipedia Revolution : How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia / Andrew Lih

Wikipedia is a revolutionary phenomenon, changing fundamentally the landscape of networked collaboration, e-learning, and mediated information provision. Here is a Wikipedia insider’s narrative of the development of Wikipedia.  The passion and commitment of the early founders and the continuing skyrocketing success of this resource and community truly inspire in a way few online networked communities can.   Library Journal

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