Anatomy of a Revolution by Crane Brinton
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  • Brinton's book is dated, but offers an interesting theory that cannot be dismissed out of hand

    • by tfedge

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      Anatomy of a Revolution” by Crane Brinton is a history book that should be read by all history lovers, students, and professionals. The book was originally published in 1938 with an update in the 1960s. Brinton compares The English or Puritan revolution of the mid-1600s, the American Revolution of the late eighteenth century, the French Revolution shortly after, and the Russian Revolution of the early twentieth century.

      Brinton posits four conditions in the regimes prior to the revolution: government deficits that led to complaints of over taxation, the government favoring the economic needs of one group over another, inadequate administrative attempts to address the problems, the desertion of the system by the intellectuals, and class antagonisms represented by the inability of one class to rise above

      a certain level, a glass ceiling if you will. These conditions existed in varying degrees prior to the four revolutions. Brinton is not proscriptive, he does not claim that the existence of these conditions will always result in a revolution. The value of his interpretation lies in what the historian might draw from these conditions. These conditions may serve to help the understand the motives of the founding fathers of the various revolutions.

      He speaks about the process revolutionaries go through in their efforts to bring about a revolution. “Thus we see that certain economic grievances�usually not in the form of economic distress, but rather a feeling on the part of some of the chief enterprising groups that their opportunities for getting on in this world ...

      • are unduly limited by political arrangements�would seem to be one of the symptoms of revolution. These feelings must, of course, be raised to an effective social pitch by propaganda, pressure-group action, public meetings, and preferably a few good dramatic riots, like the Boston Tea Party. As we shall see, these grievances, however close they are to the pocketbook, must be made respectable, must touch the soul. What is really but a restraint on a rising and already successful group, or on several such groups, must appear as rank injustice towards everyone in the society. Men may revolt partly or even mainly because they are hindered, or, to use Dr. George Pettee’s expressive word, cramped; but to the world�and, save for a very few hypocrites, also to
        themselves�they must appear wronged. Revolutions cannot do without the word ‘justice.’” (page 46).

        I liked the book and found it thought-provoking. Brinton’s book is dated, but offers an interesting theory that cannot be dismissed out of hand. It’s important to recognize that people involved in political processes are at least interested in their own interests. Those people who view the founding fathers of any revolution as demi-gods are likely to be offended by the notion that they acted out of self-interests and ennobled their cause by appeals to natural rights. The four revolutions have both similar aspects that beg comparison and throw light on both the people and the events in these four major revolutions in western history. I give this book a good solid A- or 92%.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in November, 2007. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 171911249390830/k2311a1119/11.19.07
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