Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century by Christian Caryl

Courtesy the

Courtesy the

Iran, Afghanistan, China, the Catholic Church, and the Tea Party and its supporters are all constantly in the news. With Iran it’s because of a theocracy building nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan it’s the US’s continuing police action there. China is has become an free market super power despite the pictures of Chairman Mao on the currency. The Catholic Church elected a new Pope, continuing a tradition that goes back thousands of years. The supporters of Free Market Capitalism and preach the glories of the individual continue to fight “leftist” policies. While we deal with all these situations it is easy to forget how we came to this point in history. Why is Iran a theocracy? Why is Afghanistan a failed state? How is China, a self proclaimed Socialist state, a Free Market power house? These questions and more can probably not be easily answered by most people today. Author Christian Caryl attempts to answer these questions as well as stress the importance of those answers in regards to the political make-up of the present time. He argues that the year 1979 was the political turning point that eventually led to the problems that we are dealing with today.

Mr. Caryl notes the year 1979 as very important due to the fact that it was the year that many conservative free market or religious upheavals took place. This is the year that the Shah in Iran was overthrown and replaced with the religious rule of Ayatollah Khomeini. This is the year that Afghan rebels, the Mujahideen, fought back against a Soviet Puppet Government which gave way to the Soviet Union’s own terrible version of Vietnam. Deng Xiaoping became the head of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party and began massive economic reforms that would open China to the world market. At this time a Polish cardinal was elected to the highest office of the Holy Roman Church and began his peaceful crusade against the Communist State that held his country in chains. This was also the year that, in the UK a Labour Government was overthrown and an Iron Lady from the Conservative Party was asked by the Queen to start her own government at 10 Downing Street. This book explains each of these events in a very detailed, but simple manner. This book can be enjoyed by both history buffs as well as someone who isn’t that into the genre. It explains the background of each event as well as the events that led to the massive changes that swept the nations involved.

I must confess, however, that I was saddened at how much more attention was paid to the Islamic Revolutions in Iran and Afghanistan compared to the rise of Margaret Thatcher, Deng Xiaoping and John Paul II. Despite this, I believe that his coverage of Iran and Afghanistan was quite well done. It was definitely a learning experience reading about the event that led to the Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan. Also through this book that despite the set backs Western Forces are facing in Afghanistan at the present that we have been much more successful there than the Soviets ever hoped to be. I eagerly suggest this book to whoever wishes to study the Conservative upswing of the last few years.


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