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Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Canto Classics) 2nd Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1107604629
ISBN-10: 1107604621
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  • Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Canto Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'... succinct and masterly.' Roy Porter, New Statesman

'... never fails, great historian that he is, to supply the essential absorbing material.' Michael Foot, The Guardian

Book Description

Nations and Nationalism since 1780 is Eric Hobsbawm's widely acclaimed and highly readable enquiry into the question of nationalism. This second edition has been updated in light of those events, with a final chapter addressing the impact of the dramatic changes that have taken place.
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Product Details

  • Series: Canto Classics
  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (March 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107604621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107604629
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Pool on March 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hobsbawm is a masterful historian, with the chops and interests to take on a variety of important topics. This book is his contribution to the Birth-of-Nationalism literature. Nationalism is often associated with questions of personal commitments or identity politics. This aspect of consciousness, however, is easy to assume, but more difficult to demonstrate, and even harder to historicize. As a result Hobsbawm begs off this question some, and turns his attention instead to the ways that governments (states in search of nations) and national elites (nations in search of states) have invoked or pursued the concept of nation. This work is particularly useful and importnat for its attention to language and education as technologies of nation building. Those who confuse a critical perspective with bias, or cannot overcome their own Marxiphobia, may want to stick to tamer works. For the rest of us, Hobsbawm has provided a readable and compelling exploration. While it has its limits, this is a valuable and important work.
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Format: Paperback
Hobsbawm's 'Nations and Nationalism' reveals once again the author's genius. Splendidly written, it is, first of all, a pleasure to read. With a wide range of examples, the British historian shows a truly cosmopolitan view of a rather narrow-minded phenomenon. Much more importantly, however, he unveils one of the great myths of populist rhetoric: that nations have always existed. Not only are they fairly recent developments, argues Hobsbawm, but their conceptions have changed significantly over the last 200 years or so. From time to time, the author may be a little bit too idealistic in his judgments. But over all, 'Nations and Nationalism Since 1780' is an extremely valuable book. Read it as an introduction, or read it as polemic: both ways, you will most probably enjoy it!
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Format: Paperback
"...no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist...Nationalism required too much belief in what is patently not so. As Renan said: `Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation.' This bold and principled comment, which is duly qualified in the ellipsis I left out, is near the beginning of one of the most liberating books on modern nationalism. This is a vital book which puts nationalism into its historical context, and it reminds us of the vital truth that Yugoslavia and Rwanda were not doomed by something called "irreconcilable ethnic strife," to fall into the hell that the First World has done its part to condemn them to.
"The basic characteristic of the nation and everything with it is its modernity." Even the very vocabulary of nationality is relatively new. Especially invaluable is Hobsbawm's chapter on popular proto-nationalism as he discusses all the elements that supposedly "cause" nationalism and finds them all insufficient. Many Central and Eastern European peasants did not view themselves so much as members of particular nationalities but as peasants. The term "Estonian" for instance only came into use in the 1860s. Languages appear stronger, yet dialects were so common up until the late nineteenth century that only half of the French in 1789 spoke the language, while only 2.5% of pre-unification Italy spoke what is now Italian. Nationalists often had to write their own grammars and dictionaries, and in the process the various Yugoslav groups turned three major dialects into the language we now know as Serbo-Croat. And where "there are no other languages within earshot, one's own idiom is not so much a group criterion as something that all people have, like legs.
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Format: Paperback
We ordered this book as a reading for our 'Old Curmudgeons Book Club'. The book club is made up of a small bunch of 'older guys', i.e. in their 50s and 60s. We get together once a month and disucss non-fiction books. We've been doing this for about 15 years now. The book has to have something important to say about the human condition. Since nations and nationalism play such an important role in the 20th and 21st centuries, we thought it important to get a better handle on this. Hobsbawm's book helps us to understand the incredibly short time that nations and nationalisms have played a big role in the human experience. It is essentially a 19th century invention and yet it has become such a part of our thinking - e.g. the notion of the inviolability of national sovereignty, the whole business of being an 'American', Briton, Australian, etc. which is such an important part of self identity. One piece of information I found to be astonishing is the statement that at the time of the founding of modern 'Italy',in the mid 19th century, only 2.5% of the population in the territory now known as Italy spoke Italian. Hobsbawm's book then, helps to put into perspective the whole notion of nation and nationalism and helps us to be a bit more critical and more sceptical (suspicious perhaps) when political leaders appeal in language such as 'My fellow Americans', or 'Canadians believe that...', etc. Oh yeah? (What's America? What's Canada, etc.? It helps us to recall Samuel Johnson's famous and useful phrase 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel'. Of course, we can get into debates about the difference between 'nationalism' and 'patriotism' but, for my money, they're pretty much the same thing and both are based on unexamined assumptions. Hobsbawm's book will get you thinking about these issues.

Jim Ward
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