A People’s History of the Portuguese Revolution

«But Varela is also unafraid to call “the social explosion” in Portugal what it was — a revolution. Indeed, in her concluding chapter she goes further to say: “the Carnation Revolution is one of the most important revolutions of the 20th century”. Those two qualities — the breadth of research and its unambiguous radicalism — fire the whole book.

Varela’s book is structured as a narrative history of the events between 25 April 1974 and 25 November 1975 and for anyone unfamiliar with the Portuguese Revolution these will simply astound you. But Varela deftly interlaces this with more thematic and analytical passages. There are excellent sections on the role of women and the transformative effect the revolution had on Portuguese artists (and both these parts of the book deserve to be expanded into books of their own).

However the heart of Varela’s book is an “extraordinary case study of change from below”. Varela argues that not only was there a revolution in Portugal but it was a movement driven by the determination and the creativity of the working class. As the book says, “the majority of the social conflicts of the revolution were carried out by industrial workers”. In Varela’s analysis more than anything else the Portuguese Revolution was a demonstration of workers’ power.»


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