If like me you have had found the events of recent weeks in the Middle East and North Africa enthralling but confusing then you might find the following Foreign Policy essay from David Bell helpful.
David Bell is a Professor of History at Princeton University. His particular area of research is the French Revolution. Sometimes taking a long-term historical view can help to provide the analytical resources and tools to better understand current events.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the essay, but I found his typology of revolution helpful. It is certainly worth a read.
In case you don’t have time, his main point is that revolutions fall into two basic categories: those that look more like the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and those that follow the bloody and protracted model of 1789. Understanding the unique characteristics of both models might help when trying to make sense of the current revolutionary wave sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa.