1956 The world in revolt

Simon Hall, 1976-

Book - 2016

"1956 was one of the most remarkable years of the twentieth century. All across the globe, ordinary people spoke out, filled the streets and city squares, and took up arms in an attempt to win their freedom. Popular uprisings in Poland and Hungary shake Moscow's hold on its eastern European empire. Across the American South, and in the Union of South Africa, black people risk their livelihoods, and their lives, in the struggle to dismantle institutionalized white supremacy and secure f...irst-class citizenship. France and Britain, already battling anti-colonial insurgencies in Algeria and Cyprus, now face the humiliation of Suez. Meanwhile, in Cuba, Fidel Castro and his band of rebels take to the Sierra Maestra to plot the overthrow of a dictator. Vibrantly and sympathetically told, this is the story of one year--a capsule history of exhilarating triumphs and shattering defeats around the world."--Dust jacket.

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New York : Pegasus Books 2016.
First Pegasus Books hardcover edition
Physical Description
xiv, 509 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographic references (pages vi, 401-496) and index.
Main Author
Simon Hall, 1976- (author)
  • Winter: cracks in the old order. Montgomery ; Mollet's surrender ; The secret speech ; Massive resistance
  • Spring: a yearning for freedom. The long walk ; Retreat from empire ; The Palestro massacre ; Part of a great struggle all over the world
  • Summer: a spirit of rebellion. Bread and freedom ; The Petőfi Circle ; Angry young men ; A coup de main ; The women's march ; Mob rule
  • Autumn: revolution and reaction. Collusion at Sèvres ; Polish October ; Uprising ; Suez ; Operation Whirlwind ; Sierra Maestra ; Freedom on the trail
  • Aftermath.
Review by Choice Review

In this synthesis of disparate revolutionary world events in the year 1956, Hall (Univ. of Leeds, UK) is to be congratulated for writing both a readable popular work and a scholarly work that seeks synthetic relationships among the diverse actions of a world experiencing revolt. The book is organized into 21 topical chapters within chronological divisions ("Winter," "Spring," "Summer," "Autumn"). The topical chapters are often related to earlier or later chapters, as befits the author's synthetic intent. For example, chapters 1, 4, and 8 cover the Montgomery bus boycott. Readers will find familiar topics such as the Suez Crisis, Khrushchev's "Secret Speech," the Hungarian revolt, and the Algerian revolt. Other topics include the Polish Poznan uprising, the South African Women's March and mass treason trial, the enosis revolutionary movement in Cyprus, and the landing of Fidel Castro in western Cuba. The author's synthesis is found in the "Aftermath," emphasizing anti-colonialism and the dramatic shift in international communism. Hall's research is up-to-date and meaningfully employed as he asks the important question of all history: what happened, and why might it matter both then and now? Summing Up: Highly recommended. Public, general, and undergraduate libraries. --Jim Rogers, Louisiana State University Alexandria

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission. Review by Booklist Review

British author Hall deals with the remarkable year of 1956 on the British, American, and world fronts in this nicely written, if somewhat derivative, account of opposition to established authority (and resistance often brutal to that dissent). Hall utilizes a variety of well-thumbed sources to tell his selective story, in alternating chapters beginning with the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that started late in 1955 and including the events in Algeria and the Middle East (the Suez Crisis is covered in depth), as well as in Hungary, Poland, Cyprus, and much of Europe. Africa (the fall of empire) receives coverage as well, as does Russia (Khrushchev's secret speech and de-Stalinization). There is nothing new here, but Hall does a workmanlike job in putting it all together. As with many similar narratives that attempt to establish the overwhelming significance of one calendar year, it's questionable if Hall fully makes his case for 1956, but he does shed light on some vital events that took place in a very short period of time.--Levine, Mark Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Hall (Rethinking the American Anti-war Movement), professor of American history at the University of Leeds, U.K., captures the collective drama of the year 1956, which saw massive expressions of popular discontent worldwide and demonstrated the stubbornness and violent proclivities of the "guardians of the 'old order.'" The year was a major turning point in "the global struggle against white supremacy" in the U.S. and South Africa, despite stiff hostility and reactionary terror. Postwar anticolonial nationalism lingered in much of North Africa, fueling decolonization movements and further eroding the old European empires, though not without bloodshed; the Suez crisis exemplified the declining power of the European imperial powers. In the U.S.S.R., Khrushchev's repudiation of Stalin and moves toward liberalization elicited surprise and uncertainty, and "fueled a series of rebellions across the 'people's democracies' of Eastern Europe," most visibly in Poland and Hungary, where Soviets countered the spread of "revolutionary fervor" with a brutal crackdown. Hall also covers the Castro brothers' failed initial operation to overthrow the Batista dictatorship in Cuba, and American cultural and generational rebellion in the form of rock 'n' roll, dancing, and poetry. Switching between these multiple developments, Hall provides a dramatic and immersive narrative of a tumultuous year of oppression, revolt, and reaction in a decade often considered bland and docile. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell Management. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

The 1950s often are thought of as a complacent decade when the world took a deep, calming breath after the turmoil of the 1930s and 1940s. Hall (American history, Univ. of Leeds; Peace and Freedom) examines the pivotal but somewhat forgotten year of 1956-and finds worldwide upheaval. The United States, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, Cyprus, the USSR, Poland, Hungary, Egypt, Britain, France, Israel, South Africa, and Cuba were embroiled in separate but interconnected conflicts about segregation, colonialism, apartheid, nationalism, and occupation. Although world leaders are major players, Hall convincingly shows that the tumultuous events of 1956 were driven by everyday people willing to put themselves on the front lines, demanding freedom and equality. All of this and more occurred against the soundtrack of Elvis Presley, the band Bill Haley and His Comets, the birth of rock and roll, and Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. VERDICT Accessible, extensively researched, and well documented, this book will fascinate readers with an interest in post-World War II history, and baby boomers curious about world affairs in the years of their youth.-Laurie Unger Skinner, Coll. of Lake Cty., Waukegan, IL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.