Revolution and World Politics

The Rise and Fall of the Sixth Great Power

Revolution and World Politics

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: Published: September 1999

Author: Fred Halliday

History > World History, Politics > International Relations

Revolutions, as much as international war or nationalism, have shaped the development of world politics. In cause, ideology, and consequence they have merited description as a “sixth great power” alongside the dominant nations. In Revolution and World Politics Fred Halliday reassesses the role of revolution from the French Revolution to the Iranian Revolution and the collapse of communism.
Halliday begins by tracing the origins and evolution of the modern concept of “revolution” and placing it in historical context. Arguing that revolution is central to any understanding of international relations, he examines the internationalist ideology of revolutionaries who are committed to promoting change elsewhere by exposing revolution. In contrast with the claims of revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries alike, he sees revolutions both as part of an internationalist social conflict and as a challenge to the system of states. Chapters on the distinct foreign policies of revolutionary states are followed by discussions of war, counterrevolution, and postrevolutionary transformation. The study concludes with a reassessment of the place of revolution within international relations theory and in modern history, drawing out implications for their incidence and character in the twenty-first century.
Students and scholars of international relations, political science, sociology, and history will value this major contribution to understanding worldwide developments in government and society.


“[Revolution and World Politics] is encyclopedic in covering the international dimensions of revolutions. . . . [Halliday] strongly demonstrates both the transnational and ideational aspects of revolution, making this arguably the best book on the international dimensions of revolution.” — Robert S. Snyder , Review of Politics

“[A] fine attempt to synthesize the historical and the theoretical in international relations.” — Canadian Military History

“[R]ich in coverage, considering every important dimension of the topic being addressed. It would work extremely well as an assigned book for any advanced course in international relations . . . . [T]he finest available systematic study of revolutions and world politics.” — Richard Falk , International History Review

“Fred Halliday makes a cogent case that revolutions have been the central element in international relations for the last two hundred years. . . . [He] has written the best book yet to show how revolutions and world politics are deeply intertwined, and that to a far greater degree than has generally been granted, the conflicts, energies, and ideas released in revolutions have shaped world politics over several centuries. In the next millennium, as superpower conflicts fade and the globe seems beset by regional revolutionary crises and their outcomes . . . Halliday’s insights will become increasingly valuable.” — Jack Goldstone , Millennium

“Halliday has written an extremely stimulating and long-overdue book that will be useful not only to students of revolutions and international relations, but also to historical sociologists interested in the development of the modern state.” — Brendan Simms , Times Higher Education

“Halliday writes dispassionately and with great insight and knowledge about the theory and practice of revolution. . . . [A]bsorbing.” — Andrew Gamble , TLS

“Halliday’s book is impressive not just as a work of analytic scholarship, but because it is written from within revolutions, with an ear for their polyphonous voices of aspiration and hope—from Milton to Khomeini—and with a feeling for their constraints and contradictions as their militants—from Jacobins to Fidelistas—manoeuvre in a hostile world, without being in the least apologetic or uncritical.” — Göran Therborn, New Left Review

“Halliday’s new book is a bold attempt to compare all the world’s major revolutions of the past few centuries and evaluate the continuing significance of the entire phenomenon. . . . Halliday’s is a truly global overview—and the most stimulating study of its subject to appear in many years.” — Stephen Howe , New Statesman

“In this important book . . . Halliday has resurrected a theme that has, ironically, become more relevant since communism’s demise.” — Foreign Affairs

“This thoughtful and erudite book discusses briefly the domestic causes and consequences of revolutions, but its focus is on the international dimensions, and in that, it makes a signal contribution.” — Robert A. Pastor , The Historian

“Fred Halliday is a lifetime student of revolutions. Here he offers a thoughtful, well-informed review of interactions between revolutions and international politics from the sixteenth century to the collapse of European communism. He also provides a number of side benefits in the form of fresh thoughts on international responses to revolutionary regimes, reports of his own observations in Havana, Tehran, and other revolutionary hot spots, insights drawn from interviews with pundits and world leaders, critiques of current theories of international relations, and more.” — Charles Tilly, Columbia University


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Fred Halliday is Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics. He is the author of numerous books, including Islam and the Myth of Confrontation, Rethinking International Relations, and Arabs in Exile.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2464-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2427-0
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