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  • Cited by 92
  • George Lawson, London School of Economics and Political Science
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2019
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Recent years have seen renewed interest in the study of revolution. Spurred by events like the 2011 uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the rise of Islamic State, and the emergence of populism, a new age of revolution has generated considerable interest. Yet, even as empirical studies of revolutions are thriving, there has been a stall in theories of revolution. Anatomies of Revolution offers a novel account of how revolutions begin, unfold and end. By combining insights from international relations, sociology, and global history, it outlines the benefits of a 'global historical sociology' of revolutionary change, one in which international processes take centre stage. Featuring a wide range of cases from across modern world history, this is a comprehensive account of one of the world's most important processes. It will interest students and scholars studying revolutions, political conflict and contentious politics in sociology, politics and international relations.


‘George Lawson gives us a new perspective on the sociology of revolutions in a masterwork that is destined to become the best ‘go-to' book on revolutions for the 2010-20 decade!'

John Foran - University of California, Santa Barbara

'An incredible tour de force, rich in scholarship and powerful in its original analysis, this is the brilliant new approach to revolutions we have been waiting for. Bridging history, sociology, and political science, Lawson treats revolutions as a living, evolving process, equally international and national in character. His fresh insights on the dynamics and outcomes of revolutions expand our understanding of events from seventeenth century England to today’s Islamist and populist upheavals.'

Jack A. Goldstone - Hazel Chair Professor, George Mason University, Virginia

'In this magisterial and highly anticipated study, George Lawson forces us to fundamentally reconsider the way we think about revolutions. Theoretically sophisticated, empirically rich, and intellectually stimulating, this is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in revolutions.'

Daniel Ritter - Stockholms universitet

'In this highly original study, George Lawson gives flesh to an 'historicist' approach to the study of revolutions, outlining ideal-typical paths underpinning their materialization, unfolding, and outcome across multiple cases. In the process, he shows how revolutions are best understood in relational and global terms, and how revolution and avoidance of revolution have been central to the course of modern history.'

Mark R. Beissinger - Henry W. Putnam Professor of Politics, Princeton University, New Jersey

'George Lawson’s latest book comes at a crucial time. With remarkable depth and breadth, Lawson argues for a relational understanding of revolution as a dynamic social process. In doing so, he provides a sweeping overview of the tensions, limitations, and contradictions inherent in revolutionary processes and outcomes. Contrary to those who question the revolutionary potential of contemporary uprisings, Lawson makes the case that, in historical context, many recent popular upheavals do indeed possess revolutionary qualities. Lawson shows that the age of revolutions is far from over. A brilliant book.'

Erica Chenoweth - Harvard Kennedy School, Massachusetts

'This is a brilliant book: cleverly conceived, beautifully crafted, and now the state of the art with reference to revolution. Lawson judiciously walks us through where we’ve been, are, and proffers a glimpse of where we must go, but it is by situating us in the global and revolution within the pantheon of socio-political change, he opens up whole new dimensions to our great good fortune. Smart, sophisticated, invaluable work.'

Eric Selbin - Southwestern University, Texas

'… this book accomplishes something truly remarkable: it provides clarity, not in spite of its complexity, but through it.'

Eric Loefflad Source: The London School of Economics Review of Books (

'Lawson sets the stage for a new generation of studies of radical social change and the reshaping of the modern global order.'

John Ikenberry Source: Foreign Affairs

‘Lawson’s double achievement of a rigorous engagement with revolutions literature and a demonstration of the usefulness of an ambitious and iconoclastic methodological approach makes this book valuable to all scholars of international politics.’

Horia M. Dijmarescu Source: International Affairs

‘The book will likely stand as the ideal-typical example of fourth generation revolution studies … will be read a generation from now.’

Colin J. Beck Source: Social Forces

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