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Synopsis

This pioneering study explores the role of working-class militias as vanguard and guardian of the Chinese Revolution. The book begins with the origins of urban militias in the late nineteenth century and follows their development to the present day. Elizabeth J. Perry focuses on the institution of worker militias as a vehicle for analyzing the changing (yet enduring) impact of China's revolutionary heritage on subsequent state-society relations. She also incorporates a strong comparative perspective, examining the influence of revolutionary militias on the political trajectories of the United States, France, the Soviet Union, and Iran. Based on exhaustive archival research, the work raises fascinating questions about the construction of revolutionary citizenship; the distinctions among class, community, and creed; the open-ended character of revolutionary movements; and the path dependency of institutional change. All readers interested in deepening their understanding of the Chinese Revolution and in the nature of revolutionary change more generally will find this an invaluable contribution.

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