In This Review

Anatomies of Revolution
Anatomies of Revolution
By George Lawson
Cambridge University Press, 2019, 296 pp.

In the popular imagination, revolutions are often defined by iconic images: Washington crossing the Delaware, the storming of the Bastille, Mao’s Long March. Lawson looks beyond the singular moment to build a more multifaceted understanding of revolutions in this important and sweeping new book, which combines astute theoretical observations and careful historical analysis. He argues that revolutions are not just episodes of political upheaval; they are embedded in deep social change. The Russian Revolution pioneered state-led industrial development. The Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cuban revolutions marked an era of decolonization and the rise of the developing world. The Egyptian revolution of 1952 introduced the model of military-led social transformation and inspired political movements across the Middle East and North Africa. Revolutionary forms of rhetoric and organizational techniques can even be found in movements such as Occupy Wall Street and other radical elements within contemporary Western states. Lawson sets the stage for a new generation of studies of radical social change and the reshaping of the modern global order.