Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life
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Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  229 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, the 85 years of Eric Hobsbawm's life are backdropped by an endless litany of wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions. His autobiography is an account of his travels through that past which is another country, where they do things differently.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published October 2nd 2003 by Abacus (UK) (first published 2002)
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Marxist historian Eric J. Hobsbawm writes a historical masterpiece of the XX century through the rather peculiar gender of the autobiography. He approaches the historical events of the "short twentieth-century" through his own experiences, first as a boy in his hometown Vienna during the Great Depression, as a youth of jewish background and marxist ideology in Berlin during the rise to power of Hitler, as a university student in Cambridge during its most revolutionary years before WWII, and fina...more
Wordsworth wrote on the French Revolution “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”. Recently deceased (2012) historian Eric Hobsbawm’s own youth was perhaps the opposite of this being born in the midst of the First World War as the October Revolution happened in Russia, and to be living in Germany via Red Vienna during the collapse of the Weimar Republic only to see Hitler rise to power, being a Jew, even a secular one, these must have been daunting times. Hobsba...more
I'd recommend reading Hobsbawm's history sooner than his autobiography. But maybe the fact that while always offering some nuggets, this book dragged a bit for me was my own ignorance, because when we got to the history of the UK that I actually lived through, I found this gripping. And I was surprised by Hobsbawm's position: I had not expected the almost lifelong communist to come down on the side of moderate Neil Kinnock over radical Tony Benn, for example. Hobsbawm has an impressive internati...more
Reading this made me think that really, I should be reading a pseudo-autobiography like this for every eminent historian. Because it apparently is not enough to know that the man is a "marxist historian." I knew that already, sort of. Hobsbawm is more than simply Marxist- he has been a communist since the age of 13 and remained a communist while almost everybody else around him dropped out over the course of the 20th century. He makes it sound here, basically, like he supports pretty much any in...more
Ferda Nihat Köksoy
Kitaptan Alıntılar ve Sentezler:
-Meyvesi çamura düşüyor diye ağaç lanetlenemez.

-Haklıyla HAKSIZ, adaletliyle ADALETSİZ, ne etnik rozet takar, ne de milli bayrak taşır.

-Bir ENTELEKTÜEL için, sömürülenlere merhamet göstermek, geniş kapsamlı akli sistematiğin estetik çekiciliğine kapılmak ve esaslı bir cahillik-zevksizlik karşıtlığı geliştirmek kaçınılmazdır.

-Bisiklet, insan olanaklarının tümünü gerçekleştiren ve hiçbir sakınca taşımayan, Gute...more
For an autobiog that I picked up on the off chance of it yeilding something interesting, this was an excellent choice. Aware of Hobsbawm from my uni days, I thought okay, so what does an eminent Marxist Historian have to say about himself? Fortunately, he is revelatory about his life, times and Marxism. Somehow managing to hold onto the Marxism to the bitter end but not without personal struggles. Especially during 1939, 1956 and 1989. He avoids the trap of Marxist History of trying to make ever...more
Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life; is the autobiography of Eric Hobsbawn. It was first published in 2002. My copy is of the paperback edition published and reprinted by Abacus. The first book I read by this author was The Age Of The Capital 1848-1875 which I picked up rather accidentally in the bargain section of my local book store. Well structured and written in an accessible style, it turned out to be a good introduction into the history of that period. It left a lasting impression...more
Sarah S.
I'm afraid I'm going to gush.

That's my reaction to Eric Hobsbawm's erudite, surprisingly self-effacing, and, at times, even humorous (in that dry British way) memoir.

One could sum up Hobsbawm's life thusly: British, Marxist, historian, born in Vienna, 1917, son of British and German expatriates, died this year at 92-- but oh, there's so much more.

His life really did span most of a century, a period of wars (WWI, Spanish Civil War, WWII, the GWOT), revolutions (Russian, Cuban, numerable African...more
Alan King
The question everyone wants answered: how could this enormously clever, insightful, engaged historian have stuck with the 'god that failed' right to the end of his life. It's partially answered by the story of his early infatuation with communism in Wiemar Germany. Choosing between the fractured, incompetent social democrats, the Nazis or the communists, he understandably went with the latter and expands on his reasons then and later.
But what about the show trials, Hungary in 1956 and Khrushche...more
A fully amazing dude, and my favourite historian by like loads. However, I did expect a great deal more fervour from a committed Marxist who lived through the 20th Century. He seems to view the post WWII attempts or currents of revolution and insurrection with a distance and some contempt. Maybe if your concept of revolution and major events is forged in the first half of the 20th Century, everything else seems kinda pussy after that.
Tri zvezdice z dobrim pribitkom. Za štiri se mi zdi tematika preozka, knjiga malo preveč dolgovezna, jaz pa premalo blizu komunizmu. Seveda pričakujem, da mi lahko kdo od komunistov ali zgodovinarjev to trojko zameri, a naj da petico, pa se bo izravnalo. :-)
Življenjska zgodba Hobsbawma je vsekakor vredna branja.
N Kalyan
A rich and engaging memoir which covers nearly the entire twentieth century. The book is important for the account of events and ideas it offers from the perspective of a Communist who is also an academic historian.
Hobsbawm, who recently died, left us with this great account of a life unfolding against the backdrop of 'interesting times.' I'm not a huge fan of biographies, but this one was exceptional.
Panu Litmanen
An autobiography of a devoted communist and historian. Hobsbawm writes crisply and has been where things happen for the better part of the last century.
"One should not be at ease in a world such as ours". Makes you reconsider the couch you so love.
Maria Ntolkou
The life of a great writer and historian through almost a century.
Mido marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2014
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Björn Vanmaele is currently reading it
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Eric Hobsbawm, a self-confessed "unrepentant communist" was professor emeritus of economic and social history of the University of London at Birkbeck. He has written many acclaimed historical works, including a trilogy on the nineteenth-century; The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, and The Age of Empire and is the author of The Age of Extremes: The Short 20th Century 1914-1991 and his recent...more
More about Eric J. Hobsbawm...
The Age of Extremes: A History of the World 1914-1991 The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 The Age of Capital: 1848-1875 Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality

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