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The Age of Extremes: A History of the World 1914-1991 (Modern History #4)

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  3,408 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
Dividing the century into the Age of Catastrophe, 1914-1950, the Golden Age, 1950-1973, and the Landslide, 1973-1991, Hobsbawm marshals a vast array of data into a volume of unparalleled inclusiveness, vibrancy, and insight, a work that ranks with his classics The Age of Empire and The Age of Revolution. Includes 32 pages of photos.
Paperback, 672 pages
Published February 13th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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howl of minerva
Mar 14, 2015 howl of minerva rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
So that rounds off Hobsbawm's tetralogy on the 19th and 20th centuries. 2000-odd pages of sustained historical brilliance that have changed the way I comprehend the world. In the absence of gods (and our inability to step outside of history to view it objectively) the nearest that we can come to a god's eye view is human genius.

Hobsbawm is undoubtedly such a genius, as evidenced by the universal praise this series has received from writers across the political spectrum. "I continue to believe t
...more
Clif
Sep 18, 2013 Clif rated it it was amazing
History can be written in different ways. Barbara Tuchman, for example, chooses a theme (The Proud Tower) or a person (A Distant Mirror) around which to tell of the times. School textbooks simply follow a timeline, a guarantee not only of boredom but that the reader will learn next to nothing. Eric Hobsbawm writes with the intent of a comprehensive understanding of the times. His technique is to look upon history as a jewel of many facets, each of which is worth viewing and all of which are nece ...more
Luís C.
If the twentieth century was short, he was nevertheless full well, even too full. Hobsbawm divides into three periods: the era of disasters, 1914-1945, the world to fire and sword; the golden age, the war boom that seem increasingly distant and miraculous; the debacle which led to the fall of communism but never the victory of capitalism. The historian observes the political, economic, cultural, scientific or demographic in the world. His observations, numerous and sometimes outside the box, try ...more
Kevin
I remember, a long time ago I read this when it was first published in 1994 - I was a social history student at Swansea Uni - and my lecturer told me this book was a 'departure for Hobsbawm'. I never quite or fully understood what she meant back all those years ago. My second re-read, and I still do not understand what she really meant, although being older and allegedly more wiser, I still fail to fully grasp her meaning. However, what I think she meant was Eric Hobsbawms stance on Soviet Russi ...more
Andrea Giovana
Ao terminar (finalmente) a série "Modern Series" do Hobsbawm (Era das Revoluções, do Capital, dos Impérios e o Breve Século XX) sinto que, realmente, consegui abstrair um pouco da história contemporânea (e basicamente "eurocêntrica") que iniciou com a Revolução Francesa (1789) mas que, por enquanto, não findou, muito contribuindo para minha concepção de realidade histórica e meu entendimento da atualidade que me cerca.

Este último livro é, com certeza, o menor porém o mais ousado da série, visto
...more
Lundriguez
Dec 03, 2013 Lundriguez rated it really liked it
Usually the only people tackling long general histories are conservatives. The Marxists are too busy arguing over minutiae to lend their worldview to great spans of time. So Hobsbawm offers something that was definitely missing. Even though I knew most of the events of which he spoke, he offers sort of grandfatherly perspective to what the hell happened over the last 100 years, and makes the young solipsistic leftist like me feel better, not so cast adrift in history. As long as it's not conserv ...more
Jim
Jun 21, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, economics
The Age of Extremes: A History of the World 1914-1991 takes as its subject matter what its author, Eric J. Hobsbawm, calls "the short twentieth century," ranging from the start of World War One to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

An avowed communist in his sympathies, Hobsbawm nonetheless writes a remarkably balanced history of his times, with interesting sidelights on the art and science of the century.

In general, I prefer Tony Judt's Postwar for some of the same period, though I like Hobsbawm'
...more
Bhaskar Sunkara
Apr 23, 2011 Bhaskar Sunkara rated it it was amazing
a few qualms:

1) gross overstatement of the role of the Soviet Union "threat" in the creation of the Western welfare state... goes hand-in-hand with a tendency to see the Left as a historic force embodied by the Soviet Union, rather than the product of internal contradictions within capitalist societies. In other words, the welfare state emerged, in large part, out of concessions wrung out by workers.

2) are we really living in the landside? the past decades have seen perhaps the greatest proletar
...more
Alexandra
Dec 14, 2011 Alexandra added it
Shelves: school, history
I'm not giving this book a rating for a couple of reasons: I didn't read the whole lot, and it wasn't what I was hoping for.

I was hoping for a book to give me a good overview of the bits of the 20th century I need to teach my yr11 course. It didn't do that; not that much on WW1, and little on the early part of the Cold War, although some interesting and useful comments on both. It said nothing about the suffragette movement, which was disappointing, although I guess it didn't fit into his theme
...more
Michael
Jan 24, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 20th Century Historians, World Historians, History Students
Recommended to Michael by: Karen Hagemann
It is fortunate that Hobsbawm wrote this book as early as 1994, when the “fall of Communism” still appeared to be a world-shattering event, because, more than anything else, this is what he documents. I doubt that any historian, writing a “grand synthesis” of contemporary history today, would place so much emphasis on that event. It probably helps that Hobsbawm was himself a Marxist historian who had supported the USSR during its most “extreme” period – that of the leadership of Josef Stalin – a ...more
Paul
Aug 11, 2008 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book extremely difficult to read. Hobsbawm was born in Egypt to Viennese parents who spoke English in the home, and his syntax seems to have been permanently ruined by the experience. For example, what are we to make of this sentance? For if divorce, illegitimate, births and the rise of the single-parent (i.e. overwhelmingly the single-mother) household indicated a crisis in the relation between the sexes, the rise of a specific, and extraordinarily powerful youth culture indicated ...more
Yann
Jul 22, 2011 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Après un long dix-neuvième siècle en trois volumes, un court XXème en un volume. J'ai bien apprécié le découpage par thématiques plutôt qu'une simple chronologie, mais ces différents chapitres sont de qualité inégale.
Justin Evans
Aug 19, 2009 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-etc
A great appendix to Hobsbawm's history of the long nineteenth century (French Revolution to WWI), and a pretty decent place to start for 20th century history I would say. No complaints. And i'm a real complainer.
Chelsea Szendi
Feb 07, 2011 Chelsea Szendi rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this, I was a fussy new grad student, given to pick on anything. On second reading, this book simply amazes me. Bedtime reading for the kids.
Justin Dell
A Not-So-Short (Tendentious) History of the Short Twentieth Century

Historiography has come a long way since the age of positivism, when it was conceived as the practice of collating historical "facts" and letting them "speak for themselves", of telling history "as it happened," to paraphrase empiricist Leopold von Ranke. The purview of the historian's profession has now expanded to encompass the pursuit and articulation of a deeper analysis and explication of the meaning of historical facts re
...more
Gaurav Moghe
Sep 15, 2016 Gaurav Moghe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
The Age of Extremes, which covers most of 20th century American and European international politics, is a good read for any one interested in knowing at an intermediate level why things happened the way they did in Euro-US politics.

The 20th century is marked by 4 extremely important events: World Wars, the Cold War, and the fall of Berlin wall. Most of the contemporary world politics is a result of these events. I approached this book to get a slightly better and academic view of the events men
...more
Matt Allen
Oct 30, 2009 Matt Allen rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I read this with a ton of hope: I heard this guy was a british national treasure and one of the most famous living historians. But the only thing I took from the book was his (I think accurate) theory that the 20th century was "short" and could be described as the period between the start of WWI and the end of the cold war. The rest of it was pretty forgettable. I think he's one of those historians that only makes sense if you've already spent a lifetime reading history and know the landscape pr ...more
Travelin
Jul 17, 2015 Travelin added it
Shelves: started
It seems as if Hobsbawm was too confused or dishonest about the goals and accomplishments of communism to give it to us straight in chapter 2. It's possible that's because he was an old man. But it seems he'd had a lifetime to consider communism and hadn't quite strayed from the idea that world-wide revolution was still the answer. I'm not interested in muddled thinking, or diplomacy at gunpoint and his meandering analysis would have snapped my already broken bag of books even further.
Doris Pandžić
Dec 18, 2015 Doris Pandžić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastičan pregled povijesti "kratkog" 20. stoljeća, sa sociološkom analizom. Ova me knjiga, baš kao i njegove druge knjige, nije nimalo razočarala.
Procyon Lotor
Jan 27, 2014 Procyon Lotor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 09-storia
La lotta di classe come lotta tra chi ha classe (Hobsbawm) e chi no. Possente, onesta e utilissima opera, molto pi citata e criticata che letta. Mettiamo qualche punto fermo. Hobsbawm scrive questo ponderoso saggio, citando il debito che ha verso un collega (I. Berendt) sul concetto, attribuendo a lui la paternit di "secolo breve", gi nell'introduzione. Poi nello sviluppo - mutuato dalla tecnica del conferenziere onesto che premette sinteticamente cosa dir, lo dice e poi riassume concetti e cons ...more
John
Jul 20, 2015 John rated it liked it
I didn't have enough patience to just sit down and read this (it is 600ish pages after all) but I did read about half of it and then heavily skimmed the rest. There are so many little gem paragraphs in here, though...I really should read it for real one of these days. The trouble is that it is a bit more sprawling and unwieldy than his great 19th century trilogy. Hobsbawm did such a good job breaking that trilogy up into component parts, and the books came across as courses, each one broken into ...more
Kira
Nov 28, 2016 Kira rated it it was ok
If you came to this book like I did, with a generalists understanding of the century and the hopes of a compelling and accessible way into the deeper themes and connections of the twentieth century, this book is not for you. While there were many individually interesting paragraphs, taken together the organization was quite confusing. Rather than proceeding chronologically, the book skips from chapter to chapter. The treatment of the major events of the century including WWI and WWII were cursor ...more
Weg!
The business of historians, Hobsbawm reminds us, is to remember what others forget, a task carrying much more weight in a world where contemporary experience is persistently present and lacking any organic relation (goodreads, hello?) to the public past of our times.

This book, as proof of the above point, is my first and urgently needed reading of a concise history of the Twentieth Century. Hobsbawm's Maxist position is most obviously apparent not from the balance of his arguments, which strike
...more
Jorge Gómez
Jul 15, 2015 Jorge Gómez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hay pocos libros que destruyen y reconstruyen lo que personalmente se puede considerar "buena" literatura, historia, sociología, etc. Así como Dostoievski hace lo suyo en literatura, Hobsbawm hace lo suyo con este texto.

El libro, es la continuación de la tesis de la "doble revolución" acaecida en el siglo XIX, y su reconcepción, deformación y aceleración durante el corto siglo XX. Al respecto, Hobsbawm se refiere tanto a la inmensa cantidad de conflictos internacionales en el siglo XX -a los cua
...more
Malcolm
Aug 02, 2011 Malcolm rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-global
Hobsbawm is one of the great historians, and this analysis of the short twentieth century – building on his three volume history of the long nineteenth century – is essential reading for an understanding of the big picture of contemporary history – with its argument that the period c1914 to 1945 was one long European war, that one of the great European social changes of the 20th century was the demise of the peasantry, and other counterintuitive arguments that unsettle the simplicity of the rece ...more
Tony Gualtieri
Sep 13, 2015 Tony Gualtieri rated it it was amazing
Hobsbawm is a provocative guide to the "Short Twentieth Century." He is usually labeled a Marxist historian, but from reading his tetralogy, of which this is the final volume, I see him more as a writer not in thrall to capitalist triumphalism. He's certainly not a free marketeer, his loathing for economists is palpable, but neither is he an apologist for Stalin. His chapter on the last years of the USSR, analyzing what was gained and lost in its fall, is a masterpiece of historical perception, ...more
Andrew
Hobsbawm is a gifted writer, and it's nice to have a Marxist (or possibly post-Marxist, depending on your definitions) stance on our troubled 20th Century. Unlike the pedantic textbooks you've encountered, and even unlike the politicized history of someone like Zinn, Hobsbawm is awfully good at addressing the cumulative bullshit of our society.
Pili
Aug 14, 2011 Pili rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Erselente libro! (escribo mal a propósito)

Me lo hicieron leer en la U y lo tengo en fotocopias anilladas, porque estaba dentro de los libros para entrar a la Academia Diplomática (pendiente)
Emily
Oct 23, 2016 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I am not a quitter, but good god was it time to put this one down. I tried, I really did. I love history, but I cannot spend anymore time trying to decipher his sentence structure.
Raza
Jul 08, 2009 Raza added it
عصر نهایت ها اریک هابسبام تاریخ جهان 1914 تا 1991 ترجمه حسن مرتضوی ...more
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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 wrote 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 was the author of The Age of Extremes: The Short 20th Century 1914-1991 and his recent au ...more
More about Eric Hobsbawm...

Other Books in the Series

Modern History (4 books)
  • The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848
  • The Age of Capital: 1848-1875
  • The Age of Empire, 1875-1914

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“The greatest cruelties of our century have been the impersonal cruelties of remote decision, of system and routine, especially when they could be justified as regrettable operational necessity.” 3 likes
“La distruzione del passato, o meglio la distruzione dei meccanismi sociali che connettono l’esperienza dei contemporanei a quella delle generazioni precedenti, è uno dei fenomeni più tipici e insieme più strani degli ultimi anni del Novecento. La maggior parte dei giovani alla fine del secolo è cresciuta in una sorta di presente permanente, nel quale manca ogni rapporto organico con il passato storico del tempo in cui essi vivono.” 1 likes
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