The Revolutions and History

The Revolutions and History : An Essay in Interpretation

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This book offers a fresh framework for the historical understanding of revolutions and ideas about revolution.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 244 pages
  • 147.3 x 226.1 x 17.8mm | 362.88g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0745611362
  • 9780745611365
  • 2,222,465

Review quote

a Revolutions and History combines the virtues of two very different kinds of study. It is a lucid, concise and reliable guide through the forest of literature on the subject: an ideal introduction for students. It is also a wide--ranging essay full of original ideas on topics as diverse as world--system theory and the effects of what the author describes as a the revolutionary narrativea . I dona t know of any book which so skilfully combines history with theory in a study of revolution.a Peter Burke, Emmanuel College, Cambridge a [Covers] the topic from its beginnings in modern European history up to the present. Parker has more in mind than a mere typology. He wishes also to give a structural--analytic explanation of revolutions, along with a hermeneutically inflected history of their appearance over time.a American Historical Review
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About Noel Parker

Noel Parker is Senior Lecturer in European Politics, in the Department of Linguistic and International Studies at the University of Surrey.
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Back cover copy

This book offers a fresh framework for the historical understanding of revolutions and ideas about revolution. As the glow fades on the triumph of liberalism over the so-called Soviet revolutionary bloc, Revolutions and History shows how revolutions can be located in the longer worldwide spread of modernity. Seen in that setting, earlier views have persistently misconstrued the potential of revolution. Rather than being conscious steps forward into the future, revolutions have always been hazardous responses, disrupting and accommodating a complex historical process.

Yet if the potential of revolution has been overestimated, so has the meaning of its defeat. The author argues that revolutions do not matter just because they happen. They also have a meaning, and that meaning has historical impacts of its own. By adapting ideas from the theory of narrative and the philosophy of action and of time, Revolutions and History sets out a new concept of 'revolutionary narrative'. The narrative contains the existential force of the idea of revolution, and accounts for its impact in the modern world. Drawing on contemporary history and international relations theory, the book can then show how revolutions may continue to have complex global effects in the future.

This is a study that will interest students of revolution, of history, of international relations, and of modernity. The book's interpretations illuminate the revolutionary experiences of the past while challenging facile assumptions that the force of revolution and revolutionary ideas must now simply be at an end.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements. ntroduction: Meanings of Revolution in Time and Space. Part I: How Revolutions Happen:. 1. Revolutions in Past History. 2. Why Revolutions have Occurred. 3. The Trend in Revolutions. 4. Revolutions and Modernity in the Twentieth Century. Part II: Why Revolutions Matter: . 5. Revolutions and Historical Change: the a Revolutionary Narrativea . 6. The Revolutionary Narrative in History. 7. The Revolutionary Narrative at the End of the Twentieth Century. Appendix: Revolutions and the Understanding of History. Notes. References. Index.
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