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February 9, 2017

We are very pleased to announce a book tour by Helena Sheehan, author of the important new book The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left. The book can be ordered from the publisher, Monthly Review Press, here.
The Syriza Wave book cover
Utterly corrupt corporate and government elites bankrupted Greece twice over. First, by profligate deficit spending benefitting only themselves; second, by agreeing to an IMF “bailout” of the Greek economy, devastating ordinary Greek citizens who were already enduring government-induced poverty, unemployment, and hunger. Finally, in response to dire “austerity” measures, the people of Greece stood up, electing, from their own historic roots of resistance, Syriza—the Coalition of the Radical Left. For those who caught the Syriza wave, there was, writes Helena Sheehan, a minute of “precarious hope.”

A seasoned activist and participant-observer, Helena Sheehan adroitly places us at the center of the whirlwind beginnings of Syriza, its jubilant victory at the polls, and finally at Syriza’s surrender to the very austerity measures it once vowed to annihilate. Along the way, she takes time to meet many Greeks in tavernas, on the street, and in government offices, engage in debates, and compare Greece to her own economically blighted country, Ireland.

Beginning as a strong Syriza supporter, Sheehan sees Syriza transformed from a horizon of hope to a vortex of despair. But out of the dust of defeat, she draws questions radiating optimism. Just how did what was possibly the most intelligent, effective instrument of the Greek left self-destruct? And what are the consequences for the Greek people, for the international left, for all of us driven to work for a better world? The Syriza Wave is a page-turning blend of political reportage, personal reflection, and astute analysis.

Helena Sheehan is Professor Emerita at Dublin City University, where she taught history of ideas and media studies. She is also the author of several books, including Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History and Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories. Over the years, she became increasingly committed to a form of writing that is both experiential and intellectual. Her latest book The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left combines elements of theory and travelogue.


  • May 24, Brooklyn Commons
  • May 30, Philadelphia
  • May 31, Busboys & Poets, Washington D.C.
  • Weekend of June 2-4, Left Forum, NYC
  • Additional public forum in New York City

A philosopher, historian and political activist, Helena Sheehan grew up in cold war America and the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. She became a nun after graduating from high school. Sheehan increasingly questioned everything she had been taught. She left the convent and the church and became active in the US New Left in the 1960s, both on campuses and on the streets. Sheehan moved to Europe in 1972.

Although based in Ireland, Sheehan moved around Europe, east and west, and was active at various times in social democratic and communist parties and many broad social movements. She earned her living doing different jobs, but primarily as an academic, eventually as a university professor. She has published in the areas of history of ideas, science studies, media studies and politics.