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Taking Power
On the Origins of Third World Revolutions


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  • Author: John Foran, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Date Published: November 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521629843

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About the Authors
  • Taking Power analyzes the causes behind some three dozen revolutions in the Third World between 1910 and the present. It advances a theory that seeks to integrate the political, economic, and cultural factors that brought these revolutions about, and links structural theorizing with original ideas on culture and agency. It attempts to explain why so few revolutions have succeeded, while so many have failed. The book is divided into chapters that treat particular sets of revolutions including the great social revolutions of Mexico 1910, China 1949, Cuba 1959, Iran 1979, and Nicaragua 1979, the anticolonial revolutions in Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe from the 1940s to the 1970s, and the failed revolutionary attempts in El Salvador, Peru, and elsewhere. It closes with speculation about the future of revolutions in an age of globalization, with special attention to Chiapas, the post-September 11 world, and the global justice movement.

    • Advances an original theory of the causes of revolutions
    • Covers more cases around the world than any existing book on revolutions
    • Explains both success and failure, and speculates about the future of revolutions
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    • Co-winner of the 2006 Pacific Sociological Association Award for Distinguished Scholarship

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Foran's book has raised the bar for comparative studies of revolution. More than any prior comparative work on revolutions, it takes seriously culture, contingency, and the importance of understanding revolutionary attempts, failures, and reversals. In doing so, Foran has set down a superior foundation for us all. It should be the starting point for all future work on modern revolutions.' Contemporary Sociology

    'Foran's magnum opus is a must read for scholars of revolution and social movements, third-world development, and global conflict. It is impressive not only for its breadth in terms of the number and variety of revolutions that he discusses (making it a valuable reference book), but also for its theoretical insight and methodological transparency and rigor.' John G. Dale, George Mason University

    'John Foran's Taking Power presents a sophisticated yet parsimonious account of the great revolutions, near-revolutions, and defeated revolutions of the past century. This carefully crafted and well written book is the most comprehensive study of Third World revolutions now available. Foran's theory challenges one-dimensional theories of Revolution as well as ad hoc accounts of individual revolutions. Scholars - and perhaps revolutionaries - will be debating his ideas for years to come.' Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, New York University

    'John Foran's book draws faithfully from the rich literature on revolutions from the 1970s and beyond and extends this work in useful ways. It presents a well-crafted synthetic argument that finds a nice balance between international and domestic sources of revolution and between structural constraints and political agency. It also examines thoughtfully an extraordinary number of cases in a relatively compact form.' Perspectives on Politics

    'John Foran's deftly written, persuasively argued, theoretically sophisticated, and substantively rich text serves as a delightful compendium of the very best and latest thinking about matters revolutionary.' Eric Selbin, Chair of the Political Science Department, Southwestern University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521629843
    • length: 410 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.668kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 12 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Perspectives:
    1. Theorizing revolutions
    Part II. Revolutionary Success:
    2. The great social revolutions
    3. The closest cousins: the great anti-colonial revolutions
    Part III. Revolutionary Failure:
    4. The greatest tragedies: reversed revolutions
    5. The great contrasts: attempts, political revolutions, and non-attempts
    Part IV. Conclusions:
    6. The past and future of revolutions.

  • Author

    John Foran, University of California, Santa Barbara
    John Foran is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is also involved with the programs on Islamic and Near Eastern Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, and Women, Culture, and Development. His books include Fragile Resistance: Social Transformation in Iran from 1500 to the Revolution (1993), A Century of Revolution: Social Movements in Iran (1994), and Theorizing Revolutions (1997).


    • Co-winner of the 2006 Pacific Sociological Association Award for Distinguished Scholarship
    • Winner of the Best Recent Book on Globalization Awarded by the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Global Division
    • Winner of the Outstanding Book Award presented by the American Sociological Association's Section on Marxist Sociology
    • Co-winner of the Book Award presented by the American Sociological Association's Section on Political Economy of the World System
    • Honorable Mention for the Barrington Moore Prize presented by the American Sociological Association's Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology

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