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The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848

(Modern History #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  4,391 ratings  ·  235 reviews
This magisterial volume follows the death of ancient traditions, the triumph of new classes, and the emergence of new technologies, sciences, and ideologies, with vast intellectual daring and aphoristic elegance. Part of Eric Hobsbawm's epic four-volume history of the modern world, along with The Age of Capitalism, The Age of Empire, and The Age of Extremes.
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published May 8th 1995 by Orion Publishing Co (first published 1962)
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YeastOfEden I know this is a very late reply, but I hope you see it. You're right, Hobsbawm is focused way more on analysis than on telling a story. In my…moreI know this is a very late reply, but I hope you see it. You're right, Hobsbawm is focused way more on analysis than on telling a story. In my opinion, if you're looking for a follow-up to The Age of Napoleon, "The Pursuit of Power" by Richard J. Evans would serve you better. It covers European history from Waterloo up to World War I, and unlike Hobsbawm, Evans uses quotes and personal accounts to give life to the story. The prose isn't nearly as elegant as Durant's, but whose is? There are a thousand books that will take you further through the twentieth century, my favorite being Martin Gilbert's.(less)
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Having read this first in 2011, I decided to read it again. I've learned a fair bit about the period since then, and so better appreciate the virtues and limits of this volume.

It contains a great deal of condensed analysis - hence it is rich, but often dry. It is also very British -- not only in its writing, but in its focus and biases. For all his Marxism, Hobsbawm was very much a bourgeois Brit.

There is also the business of Hobsbawm's defense of Stalinism. This is a very interesting clip -
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is, I'm sure, an informative introduction to the interesting period between the first and second French Revolutions. But it reads like a lecture, which is to say, it goes for narrative at the expense of detail. The narrative is an interesting one, and Hobsbawm is evidently jumping-up-and-down thrilled to be sharing it with us, but I had hoped to learn more specifics.

For instance, there is a section on the arts in which the author asserts that artists of the early 18th century were
tom bomp
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The preface/introduction explicitly says that it's going to be a Eurocentric book focusing on France and Britain. Which is fair enough, although the title is a little dishonest - he only has limited space to cover an era of massive change and even though it's very disappointing not to see much about the rest of the world it's not surprising and at least it covers some stuff more in depth.

However, there's no excuse for stuff like this:

"There is much to be said for the enlightened and systematic
The gods and kings of the past were powerless before the businessmen and steam-engines of the present.

Hobsbawm's survey of these twin explosions (French revolution, Industrial revolution) is a much more melodious affair than I had imagined. The material is addressed in an almost symphonic manner: capitalism and its counterpoint. The teetering aristocracy sees France go bankrupt defending our wee American democracy. The involvement of moderates is crucial as they alone weren't burdened with the
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف
Toward an Industrial World

I feel I have to explain the lack of a star rating for this review. Skip to the fourth paragraph if you dont want to read about goodread users review framework.

I've seen far too many reviews on goodreads of books in which the reviewers make a statement of how they "didn't like this novel; the author divulged too much" or, "I found it to be overally dull and difficult to read". In other words, the reviewer has chosen to place their personal opinion over and above
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book was both challenging and very interesting, not only because it deals with an immensely dense and troublesome era, but because of the way it is dealt with: in an structured manner and with the sensible rigorousness only a great historian like E. Hobsbawn is able to achieve.
You should know upfront that this is not an easy book, mainly because it is about things that are definitely not easy, but especially because writing history is not an easy thing. Listing facts is easy, but working
Luís C.
Eric Hobsbawm in his book "The Age of Revolutions: 1789-1848" defends the date of 1780 for the beginning of what he called "the greatest revolution in history in the world."
The Industrial Revolution was nothing more than a profound technological change in the means of production of English society that from that begins a new relationship between the term that arises called capital and the mode of production that was implemented. The main change occurred in the agricultural environment where
This three part series by Eric Hobsbawm is indispensable for understanding the modern world. After having read these three books, and this one in particular, I see my former self as so innocent and provincial. How could I have gone through life without understanding the industrial revolution and its interplay with the French Revolution, or European reaction, or the Napoleonic wars, or the revolutions throughout the first part of the 19th century, or the onset of imperialism, or how all of those ...more
howl of minerva
Changed the way I see the modern world.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great primer when I started University (back so long ago), and was on the recommended reading list for my Social History course I took. Being so young, naive and not that educated all those years ago, I barely understood it, and at least I never really that much got to grips with his narrative literal method of writing history; chronological accounts were all I had ever really read up to that particular time. Chronological History gives you at least a timeframe to work around; ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-global
Although it is nearly 50 years since this was first published it remains one of the superb histories of the modern age, tracing social, economic, political, cultural and economic developments and influences of the Industrial and French Revolutions – that is, the making of the bourgeois world. Hobsbawm's grasp of the big picture is rigorous and allows the reader to both grasp the broad patterns and trends, as well as much of the detail. The book's Eurocentrism is consistent with its time, ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a product of the public education system, this book unquestionably cleaned my clock.
The preconditions of the modern world are laid out, configured, and reconfigured with such precision, clarity, and ocassional flare that I could actually feel my brain humming like the filament in the Bright Idea Bulb.
Thank you, Mr. Hobsbawm
Shane Avery
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
E.J. Hobsbawm argues that the French Revolution and the British Industrial Revolution transformed the world in unprecedented ways. This “Dual Revolution,” argues Hobsbawm, established the parameters for European hegemony. The socio-economic structure of Europe in 1848 looked completely different from that of 1789. Although they followed different trajectories, bourgeois liberalism lay at the heart of both.

To begin with, Britain was the first country in the world to industrialize, in part because
I've done the last two volumes of Hobsbawm's tetralogy, and figured I'd start at the beginning, when, arguably, Hobsbawm was at his most Marxist. An excellent introduction of how we got from the ideas of 17th Century England and 18th Century France to the revolutionary fervor of the early 19th Century (which, too often, was more fervor than actual revolutionary thought), and how we became an industrialized species. While Hobsbawm has his missteps (as any interpolator of history will), it's still ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
A brisk canter through the fifty year period that shunted in the railway age of slum tenements and industrial over-production. The narrative is not too overburdened with facts (each chapter is supported by footnotes), just the odd reassuring stylistic idiosyncrasy.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Pat Rolston
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is written in a manner that makes the reader slow down and digest the formal style as well as the thought provoking commentary. Hobsbawm is a master historian who brilliantly documents and analyses the world in his scrupulously researched trilogy from a British/Eurocentric perspective from the French Revolution to WWI.

The Age of Revolution, Volume 1, begins at the French Revolution and ends in 1848. It delves into the impact of the Industrial and French revolutions impact on everything
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This takes the reader on a historical journey through one of the most transformative periods in human history, covering its effects on art, science, religion, politics, and more. It's fairly dense and assumes a bit of the reader's understanding of the subjects in question, but I think only a basic knowledge of the period is needed to appreciate the analysis. I really liked how Hobsbawn painted a picture of life at each turn, because it helped me see things through the eyes of the different ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Age of Revolution achieves that rare combination of both sweeping scope and coherent argument. Tackling the tumult of 1789 to 1848 in Europe, Hobsbawm somehow manages to summarize the transformative political, social, and economic forces that swept the continent while not losing sight of his original argument: the French and Industrial Revolutions, “the Dual Revolutions” as he calls them, metamorphosed European society, and their repercussions in turn created the modern world. Critics ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848 is an incredible work of history. It is the author's contention that, in that period, there were essentially two revolutions: The French Revolution and its aftermaths and the Industrial Revolution, which changed the face of society, especially in Europe and the United States.

This is not one of those history books that give you a series of events and dates. This dual revolution instead turned countries from an agricultural/farmer economy to the
Leandro Guimarães
Standard Leftist fare: all the world is seen as bad guys, the protagonists, and good guys, who merely react to the bad guys and thus are innocent of all the atrocities they had to commit, even if usually such atrocities were far bigger than those from the Right. A pity, because Hobsbawm writes so well. Actually, this volume is the most sufferable, as it precedes the appearance of a modern Left.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All must read this.

Append: No way one can begin to understand the modern world unless one has read Hobsbawn.
A couple of weeks ago I dropped the phrase "British Historical Entertainment Complex" into conversation. I thought it was quite clever and, like most of the things I say that I think are quite clever, it was met with a slight smile and a "very good Jim, you've been saving that one for a while haven't you? You great tosser." nod. I was making a reference to the "Right Wing Media Entertainment Complex" line that some bright spark thought up in the wake of the 2012 US presidential election to ...more
Mack Hayden
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
While dense at times—and how could it not be given it’s condensing and analyzing fifty years of explosive and global history in the course of a little over three hundred pages—this is the exact sort of history book anyone could profit from reading. Hobsbawm was a Marxist but, aside from his emphasis on social and economic forces, he doesn’t seem to have an ax to grind here. There’s an obscene amount of information here about one of Europe’s most fraught periods of history detailed brilliantly, ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
Nothing quite fries my biscuit like reading books by self-proclaimed champions of the common man that contain untranslated French, German, and Latin.

In the Preface (page ix), Hobsbawm claims that this book's ideal reader is “that theoretical construct, the intelligent and educated citizen”, but I put it to you that Hobsbawm's real ideal reader is someone who had the exact same life experience that Eric Hobsbawm did, yet managed not to come to the same conclusions, and now wishes to have this
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Birth of Modernity

Eric Hobsbawm is considered by many the greatest historian alive. “The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848” is the first installment of his four-volumes history of modernity. Although written in 1962, it’s still fresh, and perhaps even more relevant today in our post-end-of-history era. Since Francis Fukuyama wrote “The End of History and the Last Man” in 1992, almost no one questions liberal democracy and Capitalism, but the Great Recession made dissident voices be heard again.

Eric Hobsbawm surveys Western Europe during the years between 1789 and 1848. Major events covered during that period include the storming of the Bastille marking the beginnings of the French Revolution and the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, signaling the widespread political upheaval in Europe that comes in 1848. Hobsbawm divides his book into two sections, the first describing the actual events of the period and their immediate results, and the second examining the larger ...more
Del Herman
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of Eric Hobsbawm's trilogy on 19th Century Europe is a work of great historical accomplishment by the historian most famous for coining the incisive term of analysis "the long 19th century", ranging from the French Revolution to World War I (1789-1914). In this volume, Hobsbawm starts with the French Revolution and its impact on Europe, charting us through the narrative set in motion by "the dual revolutions": one of them of course being the French, a political revolution which set ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very general and outdated book. Hobshawn writes in a very peculiar and inaccessible style - one needs a lot of background information to follow his descriptions and explanations. Next to this, Hobshawn is a known marxist (who once uttered the statement that social change is worth the lives of millions) and his own political agenda shines through from time to time - a little bit too many times to my taste.

His main thesis can be summarized fairly easy: (1) The French Revolution spread
Tony Gualtieri
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressive synthesis of this era of European social history. The outlook is Marxist in that Hobsbawm is well aware that the dual revolutions created both winners and losers and that they could be best determined by class, but he never lets ideology cloud his thinking. His analysis is more descriptive than polemical. Hobsbawm is a fine prose stylist with a gift for the apt metaphor, but I found the book dense and difficult, primarily because the author assumes much foreknowledge on the part of ...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 ...more

Other books in the series

Modern History (4 books)
  • The Age of Capital, 1848-1875
  • The Age of Empire, 1875-1914
  • The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991
“As a means of alleviating poverty, Christian charity was worse than useless, as could be seen in the Papal states, which abounded in it. But it was popular not only among the traditionalist rich, who cherished it as a safeguard against the evil of equal rights... but also among the traditionalist poor, who were profoundly convinced that they had a right to crumbs from the rich man's table.” 4 likes
“On the whole, however, it was accepted that money not only talked, but governed. All the industrialist had to get to be accepted among the governors of society was enough money.” 2 likes
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