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25 October 2012
... I am not an economic historian, which did not prevent me from being friends with EricHobsbawm for many years. It keeps me from opinionating here about his work as a historian, a more than economic historian, in fact, who wrote for a wide public. But it doesn’t stop me from writing about him ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?

18 April 2019
Eric HobsbawmA Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... Was​ EricHobsbawm interested in himself? Not, I think, so very much. He had a more than healthy ego and enough self-knowledge to admit it, but all his curiosity was turned outward – towards problems, politics ...

Pastiche

Norman Stone

21 July 1983
The Invention of Tradition 
edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £17.50, March 1983, 0 521 24645 8
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... at all remote) origins of British royal ritual; other contributions concern British rule in India and Welsh cultural identity (treated more respectfully than Trevor-Roper treats poor old Scotland). EricHobsbawm both introduces and concludes the book with essays of great penetration and learning on ‘the invention of tradition’ as a kind of phenomenology of the bourgeois mind. David Cannadine’s ...
14 June 1990
Echoes of the Marseillaise: Two centuries look back on the French Revolution 
by E.J. Hobsbawm.
Verso, 144 pp., £24.95, May 1990, 0 86091 282 5
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... but the liberal-republican tradition whose ‘deposit of faith’ began to be laid down in 1789. At this distance from July last year, the moment has arrived for just the sort of book which EricHobsbawm has written: a history of the Revolution’s history which examines the main interpretations over the past 200 years in the light of today’s revisionist counter-offensive. Professor Hobsbawm ...
17 December 1981
The Forward March of Labour Halted? 
by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn.
Verso, 182 pp., £8.50, November 1981, 0 86091 041 5
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... Against this background, a public heart searching by the Old and/or Far Left is of both academic and topical interest. The contents of, and reactions to, the Marx Memorial Lecture given by Professor EricHobsbawm in 1978 testify to a mood of doubt amounting to despair which would have astonished and dismayed a similar audience a generation ago. The Forward March of Labour has stumbled to a halt, and ...

Hobsbawm​ Today

Ross McKibbin

22 June 1989
Politics for a Rational Left: Political Writings, 1977-88 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
Verso, 250 pp., £29.95, May 1989, 0 86091 246 9
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... EricHobsbawm is one of Britain’s most creative Marxist historians. Anyone who teaches at a school or university is aware of the effect of his writing, even on those who do not know from which stable he comes ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: Memories of Weimar

24 January 2008
... England after almost two years in the unbelievably exciting, sophisticated, intellectually and politically explosive Berlin of the Weimar Republic. The place was a terrible letdown.’ The cover of Eric Weitz’s excellent and splendidly illustrated Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy brings back memories.* It shows the old Potsdamer Platz long before its transformation into a ruin at the hands of ...

Indomitable

Terry Eagleton: Marx and Hobsbawm

3 March 2011
How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840-2011 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
Little, Brown, 470 pp., £25, January 2011, 978 1 4087 0287 1
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... world-shaking new research? Had someone stumbled on a lost manuscript by Marx confessing that it was all a joke? We are speaking, note, about 1986, a few years before the Soviet bloc crumbled. As EricHobsbawm points out in this collection of essays, that wasn’t what caused so many erstwhile believers to bin their Guevara posters. Marxism was already in dire straits some years before the Berlin ...

Stuck on the Flypaper

Frances Stonor Saunders: The Hobsbawm​ File

8 April 2015
... On 25 January​ 1933, the 16-year-old EricHobsbawm marched with thousands of comrades through central Berlin to the headquarters of the German Communist Party (KPD). When they arrived at Karl Liebknecht Haus, on the Bülowplatz, the temperature was ...

Glory

Eric Hobsbawm

3 June 1982
War and Society in Revolutionary Europe 1770-1870 
by Geoffrey Best.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 336 pp., £12, March 1982, 0 00 634747 9
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European Empires from Conquest to Collapse 1815-1960 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 285 pp., £12, March 1982, 0 00 634826 2
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... Is it a good thing that a country, after almost forty years of accelerating decline, has nothing more satisfactory to look back upon than a victorious world war with relatively modest casualties? One is inclined to think not, as British politicians and the media fall in once again behind the fifes and drums of military glory. On the other hand, the unique place of 20th-century war in British life – ...
19 March 1981
People’s History and Socialist Theory 
edited by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 417 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 7100 0765 5
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British Labour History 
by E.H. Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.50, January 1981, 0 297 77785 8
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... When the Roman emperor Vitellius was deserted in his last moments by everyone except his cook, the aristocratic historian Tacitus could not bring himself to mention the actual occupation of so undignified a member of society. As Peter Burke points out in a friendly but sceptical contribution to People’s History and Socialist Theory, under such circumstances ‘people’s history’ was a contradiction ...

Homesickness

Eric Hobsbawm

8 April 1993
Jews and the German State: The Political History of a Minority, 1848-1933 
by Peter Pulzer.
Blackwell, 370 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 631 17282 3
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The Jews of Germany: A Historical Portrait 
by Ruth Gay.
Yale, 336 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 0 300 05155 7
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... Most of world history until the later 18th century could be written without more than marginal reference to the Jews, except as a small people which pioneered the monotheistic world religions, a debt acknowledged by Islam, but creating endless problems for Christianity, or rather for the Jews unlucky enough to live under Christian rulers. Practically the entire intellectual history of the Western world ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: An Assembly of Ghosts

21 April 2005
... I missed meeting Mikhail Gorbachev four years ago, at a centenary conference of the Nobel Peace Foundation in Oslo, which matched a selection of Nobel Peace Prize winners with a selection of academics. I had accepted the invitation because he was going to be there, but he didn’t show up, and my opposite number turned out to be Kim Dae Jung of South Korea, an admirable figure no doubt, but not the ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: My Days as a Jazz Critic

27 May 2010
... I owe my years as a jazz reporter to John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, which made the British cultural establishment of the mid-1950s take notice of a music so evidently dear to the new and talented Angry Young Men. When, needing some money, I saw that Kingsley Amis wrote in the Observer on a subject about which he obviously knew no more and possibly less than I did, I called a friend at the New ...

After the Cold War

Eric Hobsbawm: Tony Judt

26 April 2012
... My relations with Tony Judt date back a long time but they were curiously contradictory. We were friends, though not intimate ones, and while both of us were politically committed historians, and both preferred wearing informal gear as historians rather than regimental uniform, we marched to different drummers. Nevertheless our intellectual interests had something in common. Both of us knew that the ...

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