The twentieth century was an age of revolutions. As the pace of social and economic change quickened and the savagery of technological warfare destabilized societies, intolerable pressures were created which exploded into violent political movements. These overthrew long-standing regimes and radically reshaped social orders, beginning with the monarchies in China and Russia, the latter transformed into a communist society which sought to export its revolution abroad. Towards the century's end, the collapse of the Soviet Union fed new movements, which sought to throw off the choking legacy of earlier revolutions that turned out to have merely replaced one form of oppression with another. Revolution examines all the key revolutions of the twentieth century, from the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, through the 1917 October Revolution, which overthrew the Tsarist regime in Russia, to those which accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union at the century's end. It also encompasses the democratic revolutions that overthrew a string of dictatorships from the 1980s onwards. Following the narrative thread through 18 revolutionary movements and illustrated with contemporary photographs and documents, this is an indispensable guide to a phenomenon that shaped and overshadowed much of the twentieth century.
Philip Parker is a freelance writer and editor. He is the author of The Empire Stops Here: A Journey Along the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.