In This Review

The Romanian Revolution of December 1989
The Romanian Revolution of December 1989
By Peter Siani-Davies
Cornell University Press, 2005, 328 pp

If revolution, in its purest form, involves the unplanned and unguided explosion of a population that has had it not just with a leader but also with an entire system, then the events of December 1989 in Romania qualify. Unlike the "velvet revolutions" that preceded it elsewhere in Eastern Europe, this one was bloody and chaotic, because a self-deluded leader had not lost his nerve in using force. Siani-Davies has reconstructed the rush of events during these three revolutionary weeks literally hour by hour. The effect is to draw the reader in as if he or she were there, while at the same time soaring above and viewing the overall flow and structure of a revolution. In short, Siani-Davies has done more than provide an exceedingly fine-grained account of the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime; he has given students of revolution an example with all the inner mechanics exposed.