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Description - Interesting Times by Eric Hobsbawm

Born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, the eighty-five years of Eric Hobsbawm's life are backdropped by an endless litany of wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions. He has led a remarkably fulfilling and long life; historian and intellectual, fluent in five languages, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, until it dissolved itself, and writer of countless volumes of history. He has personally witnessed some of the critical events of our century from Hitler's rise to power in Berlin to the fall of the Berlin wall. Hobsbawm has kept his eyes and ears open for eighty-five years, and has been constantly committed to understanding the 'interesting times' (as the Chinese curse puts it) through which he has lived. His autobiography is one passionate cosmopolitan Jew's account of his travels through that past which is another country, where they do things differently, and how it became the world we now live in.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349113531
ISBN-10: 034911353X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 125mm x 30mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 2-Oct-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Interesting Times by Eric Hobsbawm

UK Kirkus Review » The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm has certainly witnessed 'interesting times', as the Chinese proverb euphemistically puts it. 85 years young, his life runs parallel to the 'short century' (1914-1991) which is the subject of his most widely read work, Age of Extremes. He was born in Egypt, spent his childhood in Vienna, and went to school in Berlin (where, as a young Communist, he witnessed the rise of Nazism). By then both his parents had died and he moved to England with his sister Nancy and aunt Mimi. England has remained his home, a base from which he has explored the four corners of the globe, both physically and academically. He saw the body of Stalin, dined with a master spy in Budapest, translated for Che Guevara in Havana, and spent an evening in Chicago with Mahalia Jackson. But Hobsbawm is first and foremost an historian, and these personal reminiscences take second place to his incisive analysis of the 20th century - Spain, the Cold War, Vietnam, May '68 et al. Being a Marxist of the old school, he cannot resist cataloguing (in somewhat agonizing detail) the dry and largely uneventful world of British Communism. Being Jewish, and proud of it, he is nonetheless able to say that he has 'no emotional obligations to the practices of an ancestral religion and even less to the small, militarist, politically aggressive nation-state which asks for my solidarity on racial grounds...'. He manages all this, and much more, with characteristic rigour and (since it is an autobiography) a degree of self-scrutiny. Yet in spite of the pain he feels, witnessing the defeat of Communism, acknowledging the mistakes and abuses made in its name, he remains an optimist, and a fighter. His final words are a rallying call to the Left: 'Let us not disarm. Social injustice still needs to be denounced and fought. The world will not get better on its own.' Amen to that. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Eric Hobsbawm

Eric Hobsbawm is a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Before retirement he taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, and after retirement at the New School for Social Research in New York.

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