Eric Hobsbawn: Socialist Historian

Book Review Details

Publisher: Socialist History Society
Edition: 2015
Page Details
Section: Book Reviews =>
Subjects: History (Theory & Practice)
Posted: Modified:

This publication by The Socialist History Society is a record of a special event in 2013 to celebrate and assess the work of the late Marxist and historian, Professor Eric Hobsbawm.

The centre section of this publication, entitled ‘Hobsbawm’s Tetralogy’ focuses on his four important writings The Age of Revolution, Primitive Rebels, The Age of Capital and The Age of Extremes, beginning at the French revolution in 1789 and concluding towards the end of the twentieth century in 1991. According to critics the tetralogy is a remarkable achievement and ‘fit to stand comparison with Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece’, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

This appreciation of Hobsbawm’s work explains that his writing was informative, analytical, combining politics, economy, social life and culture. He did reach out to a broad public with his interpretation of the world and by advancing historical understanding endeavoured to change it.

Towards the end of his life he concluded that ‘The world of 2002 needs historians more than ever. Perhaps reading the perambulations of an old member of the species throughout his lifetime may assist the young to face the darkening prospects of the twenty-first century not only with the requisite pessimism but with a clearer eye, a sense of historical memory and a capacity to stand away from current passions and sales pitches’

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