FROM THE FINLAND STATION: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century by Theodore S. Hamerow

FROM THE FINLAND STATION: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century

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A critical history of the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cuban revolutions and their later bureaucratic degeneration. For readers unacquainted with the subject matter, this volume by a Univ. of Wisconsin history professor is a useful introduction, written in the tradition of Crane Brinton's 1938 The Anatomy of Revolution. It provides adequate descriptions of the anciens regimes, the course of the revolutionary struggles, and the inevitable disappointments that follow the Leninist attempt to transform society. Better-informed readers, however, are likely to find this study tediously descriptive and virtually oblivious to post-1938 analyses of revolutionary change, such as the works of Barrington Moore, Samuel P. Huntington, and Chalmers Johnson. The author's emphasis on the similarity of his four main cases is a deceptive simplification that avoids such hard issues as the comparative costs of social revolution and piecemeal reform. Its conservative bias is evident in the importance Hamerow places on the role of mere propaganda in advancing the revolutionary cause, while he downplays such factors as the disastrous Russian involvement in WW I and the brutal Japanese occupation of China, which gave the Communists in both countries a convincing claim to act as representative of their respective nations. While the inclusion of the less familiar cases of Vietnam and Cuba make this of some value, others may find they could have learned just as much from rereading Animal Farm.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1990
Publisher: Basic Book