In This Review

The Ethiopian Revolution, 1974-1987

The Ethiopian Revolution, 1974-1987
By Andargachew Tiruneh
435 pp, Cambridge University Press, 1993

This outstanding book is the most authoritative account to date of Ethiopia's epic transformation from the feudal monarchy of Haile Selassie to the Stalinist dictatorship of Mengistu Haile-Mariam. Tiruneh, who teaches law at the University of Addis Ababa, analyzes the decay of the ancien regime and the complicated evolution of Mengistu's government within the context of the country's volatile foreign relations, its failed experiments with pan-Ethiopian nationalism and Marxist-Leninist ideology, and its largely frustrated attempts to replace an unjust and unproductive economic system with something better. A stimulating concluding chapter holds Ethiopia up to the yardstick of contemporary social science theories of revolution, and a postscript recounts the events leading to the collapse of the Mengistu regime in early 1991. Situating the Ethiopian case amid current speculations about the evolving new world order, the book offers a feast of food for thought on geopolitics, the pitfalls of political and economic centralization and liberalization, the influence of culture in history and the crumbling model of the multiethnic state.