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Jul 14


Posted on July 14, 2014 at 7:52 AM by Craig Jacobson

Untitled Document

Independence Day has come and gone here in America, but the U.S. isn’t the only country with a history of rebellion. Check out these other revolutions – good and bad, successful and failed.

Cover 01 - In Darkness Nick Lake.jpgThe most famous slave uprising in history is probably the Third Servile War – memorialized on film in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, but unquestionably the most successful slave uprising in history is the Haitian Slave Revolt. The only slave uprising in history that resulted in a new, lasting state, the Haitian revolution had effects that linger to this day – including prompting Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States of America. Nick Lake’s In Darknessweaves this historical tumult together with a more recent upset – Haiti’s 2010 earthquake – in a story told by a boy trapped in the wreckage of a hospital.

BoxersSaints.pngThe Boxer Rebellion was a fight not against China’s Qing Dynasty – the nominal rulers of the country – but against the control exerted on China by foreigners from Japan and European countries alike. Preferential treatment given to foreigners and a fear that China would be split into several countries under control of foreign powers, plus a long drought and subsequent famine led to the two-year uprising captured in Gene Luen Yang’s pair of graphic novels, Boxers & Saints.

In the Time of the Butterflies.jpgCloser to home, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez relates the story of a family in the Dominican Republic as they fight to escape the bloody, oppressive rule of dictator General Rafael Trujillo. In Trujillo’s 31 years in power, thousands of people were murdered, including the Mirabal sisters – known as Las Mariposas – who inspired the book and movie In the Time of the Butterflies.

Persepolis.jpgWitness the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Shah’s overthrow through the eyes of a young girl whose family tries to survive the violent regime change and the war with Iran that follows in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Satrapi doesn’t flinch in showing the faults of both sides, the changing nature of the revolution, or her family’s struggles to adjust to a changing world.

Climbing the Stairs.jpgA revolution doesn’t need to be waged with guns and weapons – as India’s protests against the British Raj proved in the 1940s. Set against this decades-long struggle, Climbing the Stairs by Padma Vekatraman tells the story of traditionalism versus modernization in India. When her father is bludgeoned and suffers brain damage during a protest, Vidya and her family must move in with her traditionalist grandfather. Once promised a college education, she is now expected to wait on the men and is destined to be married off as soon as possible. But upstairs, her grandfather has a library and with it - perhaps - comes a taste of freedom.

Still feeling rebellious? The Taiping Rebellion, led by a man claiming to be Christ’s brother, greatly weakened China’s Qing Dynasty, leaving it open to the foreign invasions that sparked the Boxer Rebellion. Arminius, a German trained by the Roman Army, fought to preserve his homeland at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest and in doing so, established the German border at the Rhine River – a border which persists to this day, some 2000 years later. The Arab Spring uprisings began in late 2010 and have enjoyed varying degrees of success in different countries; technology, social media, and persistent news coverage have made it one of the most extensively documented uprisings in history – until the next great revolution comes.

All images provided courtesy of Easicat and the Eastern Shores Library System