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On History Paperback – September 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Eric Hobsbawm surveys the writings of modern historians with the magisterial gaze of a man who has seen both the rise of Hitler and the fall of Communism.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

About the Author

Eric Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917 and educated in Austria, Germany and England. He taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, and then at the New School for Social Research in New York. In addition to The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and The Age of Extremes, his books include Bandits, Revolutionaries, Uncommon People, and his memoir Interesting Times. Eric Hobsbawm died in 2012.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565844688
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565844681
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Ivan Stoiljkovic on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
If any one historian can be said to have written the history of the last two centuries in its totality, then Eric Hobsbawm would be the name that comes to mind. "On History" is a collection of theoretical essays of one of the greatest practicioners of the craft, and one of the greatest Marxist minds of our century. For anyone interested in practicing the craft of historical materialism and making sense of the contemporary confusion caused by the fall of the Soviet Union, for anyone who is not convinced that we have aproached "the end of history", for anyone with historical mind, willing to look for the logic of change and to consider the past in its entirety, this book is a must read. Hobsbawm's defense of history is powerful and thought-provoking, and his book is of great relevance for today.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Another reviewer (above) wrote as follows: "Hobsbawm's reputation may precede him, but his book is a weak, pretentious, and crushingly dry collection of essays that add just the wrong touch of elitism and snobbery to make the whole thing taste sour. The language, syntax, and sentence structure he uses is excruciatingly abstruse, and one suspects that the style he uses hides the fact that his conclusions are all rather a statement of the obvious." Indeed? Who wrote this? Jonathan Yardley (famous for his political animus)? No doubt anyone who uses such phrases as "crushingly dry" (autumn leaves?)and "excruciatingly abstruse" will have a hard time with Hobsbawm's elegantly stated if necessarily complicated thought. If any of his ideas seem "obvious" it is no doubt a result of his influence as one of the major historians of the twentieth century. These essays are learned but never boring (many were written to be read at conferences and I can assure you Hobsbawm's auditors were not put to sleep). Their range is amazing and the issues Hobsbawm takes up--Marxism, Marxist history, the Russian Revolution, barbarism to name a few--remain timely. Of interest to anyone concerned with contemporary history and the history of the modern world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew K. on June 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Professor Hobsbawm reminds us why we do academic history. Take this book as part of a broad foundation in Historiography and ignore claims about "snobbery" for if anyone has a "right" to tell us how to do things, it is Hobsbawm.

Also recommended: Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Age of Extremes and Freud for Historians (by Peter Gay).
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11 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Hobsbawm's reputation may precede him, but his book is a weak, pretentious, and crushingly dry collection of essays that add just the wrong touch of elitism and snobbery to make the whole thing taste sour. The language, syntax, and sentence structure he uses is excruciatingly abstruse, and one suspects that the style hides the fact that his conclusions are all rather a statement of the obvious. Historiography need not be a dreadful, patronizing experience, so avoid this book at all costs and read the refreshingly provocative "The Dustbin Of History" by G. Marcus.
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6 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
i cannot fathom why certain people rave about this book.it is not concise, clear, ironic or eye-opening. why is it that the more convoluted the book, the more popular it is? i have a strong desire to heave it at the wall right now. i will not be able to give one single comment on its content because i can't remember a damn thing i read the second after i finish the line.
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