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Revolutionary Roads

April 1, 2011

Jessa Crispin in The Smart Set:

It started with a man setting himself on fire in protest. The outpouring of grief created a groundswell of angry demonstration. The movement grew until suddenly a dictator and a system that seemed so immovable toppled so easily. And after one nation fell, citizens of other nations began to rise up and overthrow their leaders…

“The people’s will had triumphed over tyranny in a dizzying few months of almost entirely peaceful revolutions which changed the world… a point of bright hopes, intelligent optimism, sincere thanksgiving…” This may sound like a report from the Middle East, but it is actually Victor Sebestyen writing about Central and Eastern Europe.

The pattern is familiar. It’s shocking how easily revolutions in different places in the world are built on the same frame. The revolution in Tunisia and the way it spread across the region followed the same basic template as that of Eastern Europe. What follows next is bound to be vastly different in many ways, but the way the pressure can build — and how it can happen so quietly and take everyone by surprise — is familiar. Sebestyen’s Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire doesn’t just examine in detail how much of Eastern Europe went from communist to democratic within the span of a few months: It shows you how decades of tyranny in any region can be toppled in an instant. [More]

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