Department of History
History Club

Kenney's 1989 Explores Democratic Revolutions

Professor Padraic Kenney's recent book, 1989: Democratic Revolutions at the Cold War's End: A Brief History with Documents was recently published by Bedford/St. Martins Press. The book is designed to introduce the revolutionary atmosphere of 1989 by briefly comparing six nations, Poland (Kenney's specialization), the Philippines, Chile, South Africa, Ukraine, and China. The goal, Professor Kenney explains, was not simply to tell the story of each of these nations in 1989, but to examine commonalities between them as each struggled with its own dictatorial past. Anti-communism, nonviolent resistance, and democratic protests are themes Kenney highlights in the book as transending national boundaries and individual democratic movements in this fateful time period. The book includes documents to give a face to the history, with a focus on both well-known personalities and lesser-known figures.

Professor Kenney, who has a keen interest in comparative history, designed the work to help students better understand how ideas and movements become internationalized and how they play interact with the particularities in individual nations. Kenney noted that working outside ones specialization can be both a challenge and a benefit; one must of course rely on other scholars to aid in the understanding of less familiar cases, but it can also allow a useful distance for recognizing and studying transnational phenomena.