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Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  395 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Eric Hobsbawm is considered by many to be our greatest living historian. Robert Heilbroner, writing about Hobsbawm’s The Age of Extremes 1914-1991 said, “I know of no other account that sheds as much light on what is now behind us, and thereby casts so much illumination on our possible futures.” Skeptical, endlessly curious, and almost contemporary with the terrible “short ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Pantheon (first published 2002)
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Apr 27, 2013 Ximena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David M
Perry Anderson's wonderful review is as much worth reading as the book itself

Even while bowing to him as the greater historian, Anderson can barely contain his exasperation at times.
Oct 03, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
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
NoConforto Dos Livros
(em breve no blog) :)
Sep 01, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Koksoy
Feb 03, 2014 Ferda Nihat Koksoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
-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, Gutenberg’den bu yana geliştirilmiş tek alettir (K.Marx).

-Önemli olan kutsal k
Mar 01, 2015 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting life, to be sure. Three things:

1. His analysis of the 60s was interesting. Basically: the worldwide student revolt in the 60s was not really political in nature: it was a sort of personal and cultural revolt, nothing more, and nothing that posed any threat to the existing order.

2. His position during the disastrous rise of Thatcherism and the implosion of Labour. He favored "tactical voting", and saw the main goal as being the defeat of Thatcher, and had no patience with the secta
Sarah S.
Nov 21, 2012 Sarah S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Mar 27, 2012 Czerulf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites
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
Dec 13, 2011 Jemma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jackson Cyril
Jan 17, 2016 Jackson Cyril rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It is the business of autobiography, good ones at any rate, to grant us a glimpse of the past-- at least as one person viewed them. Born in Alexandria (his parents' marriage certificate was signed by Sir Edward Grey), Eric Hobsbawm joined the Communist Party during the waning days of Weimar Germany and marched in Berlin five days before Hitler became chancellor. He then left for England, was admitted to the Cambridge Apostles, and served in the Second World War and ended up as the most respected ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Wolfgang rated it liked it
Interesting biography of Marxist historian who passed away while I was reading this book.
Eric was born in Egypt, son of an Austrian mother and English father. The Jewish family moves to Vienna at the end of WWI. In the 30's Eric, having lost both parents to illness, moves to England.
He is a world-known historian and Marxist with a fascinating life and world-view.
Unfortunately, the book becomes a dry biography at times when he goes into tales about specific people important to him but not really
Alan King
Feb 10, 2013 Alan King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2014 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
The questions comes down to this, does being present at historial events, in the right place at the right time make you a good historian? I suppose you have to want to make notes... A fabulous book. Hobsbawm's humanity and perception shines through every page. A Marxist and member of the CP when it was no longer the thing to be, and in fact adversely affects your career, becomes an act of courage. Amazing!
Oct 26, 2011 Edmole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Óli Sóleyjarson
Mar 19, 2015 Óli Sóleyjarson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ef maður metur ævisögur út frá því að maður fái innsýn í söguna þá er ágætt að sagnfræðingur skrifi um sjálfan sig. Áhugaverðast var æska millistríðsáranna í Vín og Berlín. Full af innsæi. Annars verður að nefna að Hobsbawm mótaði örugglega sýn mína á 20. öldina með Öld öfganna. Það hefði annars mátt spjalla aðeins um uppfinningu hefðanna.
Jul 01, 2011 Bimbo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Luis Cardenas
Nov 02, 2016 Luis Cardenas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sin conocerlo este regalo de cumpleaños me presentó al mas destacado historiador ingles del siglo XX, su vida y su obra como explorador de los acontecimientos universales a través de la prisma comunista, ahora empezar a buscar su bibliográfica.
N Kalyan
Apr 29, 2013 N Kalyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 23, 2016 Lightmyacid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it good
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.
Sep 20, 2014 Sambasivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great insights from an incomparable historian. Breathtaking breadth and quiet wisdom illuminate every page. I need to re read to savour more...
Maria Ntolkou
Aug 23, 2012 Maria Ntolkou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The life of a great writer and historian through almost a century.
John Belshaw
Oct 17, 2012 John Belshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2007 Saptarishi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"One should not be at ease in a world such as ours". Makes you reconsider the couch you so love.
Zeynep Öncel
Zeynep Öncel rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2015
Wilson Tomba
Wilson Tomba rated it really liked it
Aug 12, 2012
Hazem Barakat
Hazem Barakat rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2014
Florian Kogler
Florian Kogler rated it really liked it
May 02, 2016
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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
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“If physical mobility is an essential condition of freedom, the bicycle has probably been the greatest single device for achieving what Marx called the full realization of the possibilities of being human invented since Gutenberg, and the only one without obvious drawbacks.” 0 likes
“On the other hand, the militant left, and many socialist intellectuals such as my old friend Ralph Miliband (whose sons were to become important figures in the offices of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown), also wrote off the Labour Party until the moment when it had been captured and was ready to become ‘a real socialist party’, whatever that meant. I outraged some of my friends by pointing out that they were not seriously trying to defeat Mrs Thatcher. Whatever they thought, ‘they acted as though another Labour government like the ones we have had before from time to time since 1945 were not just unsatisfactory, but worse than no Labour government … (i.e.) worse than the only alternative government on offer, namely Mrs Thatcher’s” 0 likes
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