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About E. J. Hobsbawm
Hobsbawm was born in Egypt but spent his childhood mostly in Vienna and Berlin. Following the death of his parents and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, Hobsbawm moved to London with his adoptive family, then obtained his PhD in history at the University of Cambridge before serving in the Second World War. In 1998 he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour. He was President of Birkbeck, University of London from 2002 until his death. In 2003 he received the Balzan Prize for European History since 1900 "for his brilliant analysis of the troubled history of twentieth-century Europe and for his ability to combine in-depth historical research with great literary talent."
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Rob Ward (Flickr: HayFestivalA-011.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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"We need to take account of Marx today," argues Eric Hobsbawm in this persuasive and highly readable book. The ideas of capitalism’s most vigorous and eloquent enemy have been enlightening in every era, the author contends, and our current historical situation of free-market extremes suggests that reading Marx may be more important now than ever.
Hobsbawm begins with a consideration of how we should think about Marxism in the post-communist era, observing that the features we most associate with Soviet and related regimes—command economies, intrusive bureaucratic structures, and an economic and political condition of permanent war—are neither derived from Marx’s ideas nor unique to socialist states. Further chapters discuss pre-Marxian socialists and Marx’s radical break with them, Marx’s political milieu, and the influence of his writings on the anti-fascist decades, the Cold War, and the post–Cold War period. Sweeping, provocative, and full of brilliant insights, How to Change the World challenges us to reconsider Marx and reassess his significance in the history of ideas.
Hitler came to power as Hobsbawm was on his way home from school in Berlin, and the Soviet Union fell while he was giving a seminar in New York. He was a member of the Apostles at King’s College, Cambridge, took E.M. Forster to hear Lenny Bruce, and demonstrated with Bertrand Russell against nuclear arms in Trafalgar Square. He translated for Che Guevara in Havana, had Christmas dinner with a Soviet master spy in Budapest and an evening at home with Mahalia Jackson in Chicago. He saw the body of Stalin, started the modern history of banditry and is probably the only Marxist asked to collaborate with the inventor of the Mars bar.
Hobsbawm takes us from Britain to the countries and cultures of Europe, to America (which he appreciated first through movies and jazz), to Latin America, Chile, India and the Far East. With Interesting Times, we see the history of the twentieth century through the unforgiving eye of one of its most intensely engaged participants, the incisiveness of whose views we cannot afford to ignore in a world in which history has come to be increasingly forgotten.
With his usual measured and brilliant historical perspective, Eric Hobsbawm traces the rise of American hegemony in the twenty-first century. He examines the state of steadily increasing world disorder in the context of rapidly growing inequalities created by rampant free-market globalization. He makes clear that there is no longer a plural power system of states whose relations are governed by common laws--including those for the conduct of war. He scrutinizes America's policies, particularly its use of the threat of terrorism as an excuse for unilateral deployment of its global power. Finally, he discusses the ways in which the current American hegemony differs from the defunct British Empire in its inception, its ideology, and its effects on nations and individuals.
Hobsbawm is particularly astute in assessing the United States' assertion of world hegemony, its denunciation of formerly accepted international conventions, and its launching of wars of aggression when it sees fit. Aside from the naivete and failure that have surrounded most of these imperial campaigns, Hobsbawm points out that foreign values and institutions--including those associated with a democratic government--can rarely be imposed on countries such as Iraq by outside forces unless the conditions exist that make them acceptable and readily adaptable.
Timely and accessible, On Empire is a commanding work of history that should be read by anyone who wants some understanding of the turbulent times in which we live.
From 1955-65 the historian Eric Hobsbawm took the pseudonym 'Francis Newton' and wrote a monthly column for the New Statesman on jazz - music he had loved ever since discovering it as a boy in 1933 ('the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany'). Hobsbawm's column led to his writing a critical history, The Jazz Scene (1959). This enhanced edition from 1993 adds later writings by Hobsbawm in which he meditates further 'on why jazz is not only a marvellous noise but a central concern for anyone concerned with twentieth-century society and the twentieth-century arts.'
'All the greats are covered in passing (Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday), while further space is given to Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, and Sidney Bechet ... Perhaps Hobsbawm's tastiest comments are about the business side and work ethics, where his historian's eye strips the jazz scene down to its commercial spine.' Kirkus Reviews
Eric Hobsbawm, nato nel 1917, affronta qui un compito arduo e affascinante anche per uno storico di fama mondiale e di sperimentate capacità scientifiche: delineare un panorama esauriente di un periodo che ha non solo studiato come ricercatore ma manche vissuto come uomo.
Un libro fontamentale che ormai è universalmente riconosciuto come uno dei grandi classici della storiografia contemporanea.
Após o triunfo de Fidel Castro em Cuba, em janeiro de 1959, e mais ainda após a tentativa fracassada de golpe dos americanos na Baía dos Porcos, dois anos depois, "não havia intelectual [de esquerda] na Europa ou nos Estados Unidos que não sucumbisse ao feitiço da América Latina, continente onde aparentemente borbulhava a lava das revoluções sociais", escreveu Eric Hobsbawm. Mas o caso do grande historiador britânico era especial: ele dizia que a América Latina era a única região do mundo, além da Europa, que conhecia bem e onde se sentia totalmente em casa.
Membro do Partido Comunista da Grã-Bretanha desde seus dias de estudante na Universidade de Cambridge, Eric visitou Cuba no verão de 1960. Em 1962, passou três meses viajando entre Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolívia e Colômbia. No Brasil, ficou chocado com o atraso econômico e a pobreza que encontrou, mas também reconheceu o "imenso" potencial dos trabalhadores do campo no Nordeste brasileiro, "aquela vasta área de cerca de 20 milhões de habitantes que deu ao país os seus mais famosos bandidos [e] revoltas camponesas".
La storia dell'Età degli imperi è quella del «mondo e della società del liberalismo borghese avanzante verso 'la strana morte'… che la coglie proprio quando essa raggiunge il suo apogeo, e a causa proprio delle contraddizioni insite in questa sua avanzata». Con uno stile espositivo amabile e intelligente, Hobsbawm accompagna il lettore alla scoperta di un mondo apparentemente lontano e lo rende consapevole delle profonde radici che legano quel mondo al nostro secolo breve. Vittorio Vidotto