revolutionary reading
December 18, 2008 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for readable accounts of revolutionary movements.

I'd like to read about any movement where there's a marginalized or oppressed group overthrowing an oppressive government (or trying to). Any time period or geographic location is cool.

Should be:
-Nonfiction or 'fiction' that is really thinly veiled nonfiction
-More focused on a movement than one individual
-Super interesting, exciting, engaging or otherwise fun to read
-Mostly I'm looking for leftist movements, but if you think there's some really wonderful read about a right wing group I'd probably look into that too.
posted by serazin to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Black Night, White Snow, by Harrison E. Salisbury
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2008

The Sixties by Todd Gitlin is a really great read about the student movement of the 60s in the US (don't think most of those students count as an oppressed group, though). Gitlin was one of the first members of SDS and was there for a lot of the good stuff, so it's part memoir, part history, and very fun to read.
posted by lunasol at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2008

Sorry, here's a link.
posted by lunasol at 10:33 AM on December 18, 2008

Jose Peirat's Anarchists In The Spanish Revolution - I didn't find any longueurs unlike the Amazon reviewer.
Stewart Edwards The Paris Commune 1871
Currently reading 浴血罗霄 (Ch.) which is the thinly fictionalised account of recently deceased PLA general Xiao Ke (萧克) and his brigade in the campaign to breakout of the KMT encirclement of the Hunan-Jiangxi Soviet. Gripping stuff in a commie Boy's Own way. Look out for it in English soon if I successfully pitch a translation to someone :p
posted by Abiezer at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2008

For the Bolshevik Revolution, Ten Days that Shook the World by John Reed
For the Mexican Revolution of 1914 (Pancho Villa), Insurgent Mexico by John Reed
posted by mattbucher at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2008

Homage to Catalonia?
posted by turbodog at 1:36 PM on December 18, 2008

Homage to Catalonia is super-interesting leftist nonfiction, but as George Orwell's personal account it might flunk the "focused on an individual" test. Still a great read, though.
posted by ecmendenhall at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2008

Well, were the American Patriots left or right wing? I'd say right wing. Either way, 1176 by David McCullough is one of the best books I've ever read. Period. Chronicles the entire year of 1776 from the perspective of Washington's army. From the escape from Boston to the crossing of the Potomac and the capture of the Hessian's. Maybe it helps that I live in Brooklyn and go through Ft Greene almost daily, but this book - unbelievable.
posted by spicynuts at 3:04 PM on December 18, 2008

Carry Me Home : Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter.

It's a doorstop, and it's painstakingly detailed, but go through it to read about Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the real unsung heroes of the era. The racist rednecks just could not kill him, but it wasn't for lack of trying: they blew up his house, shot him, beat him, stabbed him, and Rev. Shuttleworth kept getting back up. He vowed "to kill segregation or be killed by it". It was Shuttlesworth who convinced Dr. King to use Birmingham's black children as bait for the white mob, a move that initially horrified King, but once the TV footage of white policemen with dogs and firehoses aimed at schoolchildren shocked a nation, Shuttlesworth's brinksmanship and King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" won the day.

(Shuttleworth is alive today, though he is frail and very ill, and it is my fondest hope that he will live to see President Obama's inauguration.)

Also of interest:

A Fire You Can't Put Out, The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Fred Shuttlesworth, by Andrew Maris
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:54 PM on December 18, 2008

Check the "References" section towards the bottom of this page for Sadinista & Contra books.
Cox, Jack. (1987) Requiem in the Tropics: Inside Central America. (UCA Books) has many references to it but I can find no reviews.
posted by adamvasco at 1:21 AM on December 19, 2008

Crane Brinton's The Anatomy of Revolution
posted by jbrjake at 9:10 AM on December 19, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks y'all. This looks like a good start.
posted by serazin at 10:38 AM on December 27, 2008

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