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The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991

(Modern History #4)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  4,227 ratings  ·  211 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
Dec 31, 2013 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
Sep 18, 2013 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
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
Mesut Bostancı
Apr 01, 2013 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
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university-books
Di una chiarezza, bellezza, precisione e schiettezza senza precedenti.
Questa "resa dei conti con il 900" mi ha fatto venire voglia di leggere il più possibile di questo autore. Spero di rimediare asap.
Jan 24, 2016 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
May 31, 2015 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'
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contro: è lungo e peso; è un gigabignami del '900 e quindi molte questioni sono nominate in fretta e poco approfondite.
Pro: è un volo di ampio respiro su tutta la storia del '900 ed è quindi uno strumento prezioso per comprendere in un unico ragionamento storico il secolo nella sua complessità; non fa sconti agli errori della politica e della società, offrendo un punto di vista molto critico soprattutto sugli avvenimenti del dopoguerra, dal boom degli anni '50-'60 alle contestazioni del '68 al l
Aug 11, 2008 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
Nov 03, 2011 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
Justin Evans
Aug 19, 2009 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.
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
Federico Damian
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not a history book

Hosbawm's "The Age Of Extremes..." is, best described as "A collection of Marxist Thesis on the 20th Century" than a history book. Perhaps an even better title is "A collection of Hosbawm's highly biased comment on a few 20th century historical facts".

Over the course of its roughly 400-500 pages, Hosbawm does his best make the non-communist (read: capitalist) nations look like complete monsters. He is, of course, right in that the capitalist nations often commited attrocities
Jul 22, 2011 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.
Chelsea Szendi
Feb 07, 2011 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.
Pavel Bureš
Dec 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Well, as I dont like them totalitarian ideas, this history book by a Communist was not very appetising. Some parts are rather disgusting. ...more
Dvd (VanitasVanitatumOmniaVanitas)
Saggio monumentale, giustamente celebre, che cerca ua sintesi (quasi impossibile) del secolo più veloce e sconvolgente della storia dell'umanità: mai i cambiamenti sono stati tanti e tanto radicali nonché - più o meno - globalmente diffusi in tutto il mondo.
Diventa impossibile per noi contemporanei (tutti noi, che una fetta del secolo appena passato lo abbiamo necessariamente vissuto) dare un quadro coerente a tempi che abbiamo visto direttamente o di cui abbiamo avuto notizie di seconda mano:
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hobsbawm is a very interesting writer. I thoroughly enjoyed large parts of his political and military chapters, I may not agree with all of his points but they were interesting nontheless. It was fascinating to read the thoughts and ideas of a well-read marxist historian on the century he lived through. But some of his passages on art, science and social issues (particularly those pertaining to homosexuality) were troubling and bordering on reactionary. Especially passages such as this one about ...more
Steve Cooper
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While the author comes to the conclusion that people generally have better lives when their governments' redistribution policies prevent significant wealth inequality and are widely accepted by the populace, the analysis Hobsbawm employs to arrive at that conclusion is not limited by any religious, ideological or economic dogma.

Not only does the book predict many of the phenomena we're encountering now, but its focus on the actors and forces with the most persistent and profound presence in hist
Procyon Lotor
Jan 27, 2014 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 ...more
Bevan Lewis
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I started at the end, chronologically speaking with this addendum to Eric Hobsbawm's much admired "Age of" sequence. The book by its nature is more than just historical analysis, with personal observation and reflection informing its analysis.
On its own terms it is an excellent book for gaining an understanding of cause and effect in the twentieth century. It is not a narrative and those less familiar with the events would be better with Martin Gilbert or John Roberts' efforts. Hobsbawm certainl
Gaurav Moghe
Sep 15, 2016 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
Matt Allen
Oct 29, 2009 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
Jun 29, 2014 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.
Jul 08, 2009 added it
عصر نهایت ها اریک هابسبام تاریخ جهان 1914 تا 1991 ترجمه حسن مرتضوی ...more
Doris Pandžić
Dec 18, 2015 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.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book's only rival(known to me)in historical writing, is the previous tome of the series: The Age of Empire. Hobsbawm sets himself the task, of explaining why history took the course it did. His chapters on : The breakdown of patterns of social expectation, the retreat of economic and political liberalism, and the transformation of the arts in the 20th century, are superb. The same encomium should be extended to his prologue: The bird's eye view, and his epilogue, were many of the events hap ...more
Elif Derin
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
çeviri dolayısıyla okumakta zorlansam da oldukça doyurucu bir kitaptı. başlığın kısalığına bakmayın sekiz yüz civarında sayfa boyunca felaket okuyorsunuz. zaten yüzyılın ilk yarısı dünya savaşları, ikinci yarısı da soğuk savaş dönemi olduğundan yazarın iyi bir şeye değinme şansı pek yok. yine de her bölüme konulmuş sanat kısmı arada siyasetten ve ekonomiden başka hareketler de olduğunu görmenize yarıyor. planlı programlı yazılmış akademik bir kitap bence, başlık ve kapak ülkemizde çok moda olan ...more
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poor quality paperbacks--plastic covers 1 4 Jul 29, 2017 01:15AM  
  • The Making of the English Working Class
  • Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century
  • Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century, Vol. 1: The Structures of Everyday Life
  • The Origins of the Second World War
  • Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World
  • Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
  • The New Penguin History of The World
  • The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 (PENGUIN HISTORY OF EUROPE)
  • The Long Twentieth Century
  • The History of England
  • The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
  • Medieval Civilization 400-1500
  • Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism
  • The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution
  • The Anatomy of Fascism
  • Liberalism: A Counter-History
  • The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century
  • The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy Of American Empire
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

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
“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.” 4 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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