Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century

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9781470879532: Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century

[MP3CD audiobook format in vinyl case.]

[Read by Patrick Lawlor]

This gripping account of the five simultaneous counterrevolutions in 1979 shows how that critical year changed the course of history and shaped the world we live in today.

Most historians would have us believe that the twenty-first century began in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of the West over the Soviet Union. But veteran journalist Christian Caryl shows that the world we live in today - and the problems that plague it - can actually be traced back a decade earlier. 1979 was the year that the postwar order evaporated, reshaping the international system and making way for a new era of global history.

Caryl discusses each of the year's major counterrevolutions in turn, explaining how 1979 marked the start of economic recovery in China, where Deng Xiaoping put the ruling Communist Party on track to deliver the sweeping reforms that have made the country the powerhouse it is today. 1979 was also the year that Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland, undoing many of the so-called advances of communism in Eastern Europe by reigniting a suppressed Catholic faith. In the Middle East, the Islamic Revolution transformed Iran into a theocracy almost overnight, replacing the country's modernizing monarchy with a republic governed by a conservative religious constitution. Further west, Margaret Thatcher became the British prime minister and returned her country to a purer form of free-market capitalism, inspiring Ronald Reagan to do the same in the United States. And the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, aiming to shore up its fledgling communist government but leading instead to the creation of the Afghan mujahideen resistance, which provided the seedbed for al-Qaeda.

Weaving together these dramatic stories into a paradigm-shifting revision of our recent history, Caryl offers a startling new argument about the hinge on which the twentieth century turned.

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About the Author:

CHRISTIAN CARYL is deputy editor at Foreign Policy, a contributing editor at Newsweek, and a senior fellow of the Center for International Studies at MIT. He has also served as Washington chief editor for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Tokyo bureau chief of Newsweek, and Moscow bureau chief of both Newsweek and US News & World Report. He has worked as a correspondent in Berlin and Hong Kong. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he has also written for the Economist, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal,Foreign Affairs, New Republic, Spectator, Times Literary Supplement, Sunday Times, New Statesman, and the Boston Globe, among others. He is a graduate of Yale.

Review:

''If you haven't thought much about the year 1979, it's time you should. In this provocative work of scholarship and reporting, Christian Caryl argues that this was the year when a counter-revolution -- led by Margaret Thatcher, John Paul II, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Deng Xiaoping -- changed the course of history. After reading this book you won't think the same way about the twentieth century again.'' --Anne Applebaum, New York Times bestselling author of Iron Curtain

''In a highly focused work, Foreign Affairs deputy editor Caryl finds that the year 1979 engendered a remarkable crop of history-changing leaders . . . As ably shown by Caryl, the events of this cataclysmic year would continue to bear fruit for years to come. An astute assessment of the efforts of a group of historic newsmakers.'' --Kirkus Reviews

''The end of the 1970s saw the emergence of a dizzying array of ideologies and movements, and Caryl contends that their ripples are still spreading across the surface of the modern world . . . Caryl displays an impressive facility with Western, Soviet, Chinese, and Islamic political traditions and circumstances, and he manages to present a relatively coherent and unified view of world affairs.'' --Publishers Weekly

''Christian Caryl takes a series of seemingly disparate events that shook the world of the late 1970s and uncovers the strands that bind them together. The result is an amazing story that illuminates the world we live in.'' --Dexter Filkins, New York Times bestselling author

''Christian Caryl's book is eloquent, elegant, and persuasive. It makes a connection that is obvious once he points it out -- about the transformations in the Middle East, central and east Asia, and Europe from West to East whose aftereffects shape our politics, culture, and economy even now . . . This is a very valuable and readable work combining the best elements of history and high-end contemporary reportage.'' --James Fallows, author of China Airborne

''At the end of the twentieth century, two coiled forces, religion and markets, sprung onto the world stage. From China's reforms to Margaret Thatcher's rise to Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution, they all began in 1979 and have been shaping international life ever since. Christian Caryl tells the story of that pivotal year -- and its consequences -- with intelligence, grace, and lucidity.'' --Fareed Zakaria

''Mr. Caryl tells this story with great skill. He moves effortlessly from one scene to another in this tumultuous year . . . Mr. Caryl also sprinkles his fast-paced narrative with plenty of striking details . . . Anyone who wants to understand how this new world came into being needs to read Mr. Caryl's excellent book.'' --Economist

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