Thursday, July 9, 2020
Mark Mazower (Ira D. Wallach Professor of World Order Studies; Director, Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination) reviews Richard Evans' Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History for the New York Review of Books (July 23, 2020).
From the introduction:
When Eric Hobsbawm died in 2012 at the age of ninety-five, he was probably the best-known historian in the English-speaking world. His books have been translated into every major language (and numerous minor ones), and many of them have remained continuously in print since their first appearance. Though his work centered on the history of labor, he wrote with equal fluency about the crisis of the seventeenth century and the bandits of Eritrea, the standard of living during the industrial revolution and Billie Holiday’s blues. For range and accessibility, there was no one to touch him. What he gave his readers was above all the sense of being intellectually alive, of the sheer excitement of a fresh idea and a bold, unsentimental argument. The works themselves are his memorial. What is there to learn from his biography?