Blog

Anatol Lieven on SR in The Times Literary Supplement.


October 31, 2013

“These are all immensely important national stories, and Caryl tells them vividly and well. But how far do they really hang together?” Read the review here.

Jonathan Derbyshire tackles SR in The Guardian.


October 21, 2013

“Strange Rebels, then, is in part a book about what happens when the world stops co-operating with ideological categories and they lose their explanatory power. It is also an extended demonstration of the law of unintended consequences…

“In his riveting account of this and other decisive global convulsions that occurred in the space of that single year, Christian Caryl notes that “most outsiders couldn’t fathom what was happening in Iran”. How could obscurantist religious atavism be mobilising millions in a country that, under the shah, had become more modern, more western and, it seemed, more secular? Foucault’s dispatches from Tehran were one exception to the general incomprehension of western observers, best exemplified by the US president Jimmy Carter’s dismissal of Khomeini as ‘crazy.’”

David Runciman deems SR “fascinating and frustrating” in his review for The London Review of Books.


“One possible lesson to draw from the past forty years is that in the end religious fundamentalism and market fundamentalism don’t go together at all. Their time horizons are just too different. Religion seeks out the moment of crisis. Markets seek endlessly to defer it.”

Runciman disagrees with the book’s argument, but his reasons for doing so are really worth a read. You can see the review here.

Thatcher biographer Charles Moore’s review of SR in The Telegraph: “In 1979, a great many lies were exposed.”


“Why were these disparate events of 1979 so striking? Because they struck at the particular notion of “progress” with which we in the West had been brought up. The idea – expressed in the then-popular phrase “the mixed economy” and in the love of détente with the Soviet Union – was that socialism was basically good, and had won a permanent moral victory, but that capitalism was a grubby but necessary mechanism for producing the money socialism required. By the Seventies, this “progress” of humanity was visibly faltering. Inflation, labour unrest, social breakdown and growing terrorism and extremism saw to that.

“So if you felt discontented with the progress dogma, you were alert to those who questioned it. Mrs Thatcher, for example, is best known for her economic doctrines, but Christian Caryl is right to see that her global effect (he writes well, for instance, about her legacy in modern India) was not technical, but human. She was preaching about what people can do if only the state will let them.”

You can read the review here. And you can find the magnificent first volume of his Thatcher biography here.

Marshall Poe interviewed me for the fantastic New Books in History website.


You can listen to the interview here.

Thanks very much to the McCain Institute for inviting me to talk about Strange Rebels.


Special thanks to Ambassador Kurt Volker for moderating the event.

Here’s a video of our conversation on July 16.

Here’s a video of my talk at the World Affairs Council in Washington, DC, on July 16, 2013.


A great event — many thanks to Heidi Shoup.

You can see the video here.

The National Interest’s Dalibor Rohac likes SR’s take on Eastern Europe.


“A riveting read, it is interspersed with gripping anecdotes and an admirable attention to detail. Its main thesis—that our current world would be unimaginable without the unique concatenation of world events that occurred in a very short period of time in 1979—is both novel and compelling.”

You can read the review here.

I’ll be talking about SR at MIT in Cambridge, MA, on Sept. 19, 2013.


September 9, 2013

For the specifics, see here.

Come see my talk at California College of the Arts on Sept. 17.


If you happen to be in San Francisco, please come on by.