Many political regimes today draw such legitimacy as they have from a revolution: the destruction of an existing political elite and its replacement by a different group or groups drawn from inside the same society. A large part of the ideological dispute in world politics has come in consequence to turn on an interpretation of the character of revolutions as political and social events. It is extremely difficult to separate ideological assessments of the desirability or otherwise of what has occured in revolutions from causal explanations of why these revolutions occurred, and both major traditions in the analysis of revolutionary phenomena have been damaged by their failure to distinguish clearly between explanation and assessment. In examining eight major revolutions of the twentieth century, John Dunn helps readers to remedy this state of affairs by thinking for themselves.
'Mr Dunn has written a very interesting, subtle, provocative and difficult book.' James Joll, The Sunday Times 'In analysing how and why revolutions have occurred, John Dunn's distinguished book raises the level of sophistication on which argument can proceed ... No brief summary, however, can do justice to Dunn's achievement in this book, which illuminates the whole subject in a way no other writer has hitherto done ... it will be widely appreciated by those seeking a study of exceptional integrity.' Third World ' ... the book is a brilliant effort. It gives the reader much to think about in its summaries of leading points of the debates over eight different twentieth-century revolutions.' Journal of Social History ' ... the perfect introduction to the subject for the use of intelligent students.' George Lichtheim