Eric Hobsbawm | British historian, 95

Eric Hobsbawm
Eric Hobsbawm
Posted: October 05, 2012

Eric Hobsbawm, 95, honored as one of Britain's most distinguished historians despite retaining an allegiance to the Communist Party that lasted long after many had left in disgust, died Monday at a London hospital after a long battle with leukemia.

He was revered for his ability to make history come alive, using his socialist perspective to tell stories from the people's point of view.

His reading of Karl Marx and his experience living in Germany in the early 1930s formed his views. He joined the Communist Party in England in 1936 and stayed a member long after Soviet military force crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the liberal reforms of the Prague Spring in 1968, although he publicly opposed both interventions.

He is best known for three volumes, spanning the period from 1789 to 1914: The Age of Revolution (1962), The Age of Capital (1975), and The Age of Empire (1987). A later volume, Age of Extremes, took the story from 1914 to 1991.

Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm - the last name was the result of a clerical error in recording the name Hobsbaum - was born in 1917 in Alexandria, Egypt.

After growing up in Vienna and Berlin, he moved to London in 1933. During World War II, he was assigned to an engineering unit that introduced him, for the first time, to the working class.

In a 1995 interview on the BBC's Desert Island Discs, he said he had been disillusioned by a visit to the Soviet Union shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

"I still believed in the movement, but I had stopped being a militant for a very long time," he said. "As it were, from about 1956 I carefully recycled myself as a sympathizer rather than a militant." - AP

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|