Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History
By Richard J. Evans
The first biography of one of the twentieth century's most respected and accomplished historians.
At the time of his death at the age of 95, Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) was the most famous historian in the world. His books were translated into more than fifty languages and he was as well known in Brazil and Italy as he was in Britain and the United States. His writings have had a huge and lasting effect on the practice of history. More than half a century after it appeared, his books remain a staple of university reading lists.
He had an extraordinarily long life, with interests covering many countries and many cultures, ranging from poetry to jazz, literature to politics. He experienced life not only as a university teacher but also as a young Communist in the Weimar Republic, a radical student at Cambridge, a political activist, an army conscript, a Soho 'man about town', a Hampstead intellectual, a Cambridge don, an influential journalist, a world traveller, and finally a Grand Old Man of Letters.
In A Life in History, Richard Evans tells the story of Hobsbawm as an academic, but also as witness to history itself, and of the twentieth century's major political and intellectual currents. Eric not only wrote and spoke about many of the great issues of his time, but participated in many of them too, from Communist resistance to Hitler to revolution in Cuba, where he acted as an interpreter for Che Guevara. He was a prominent part of the Jazz scene in Soho in the late 1950s and his writings played a pivotal role in the emergence of New Labour in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
This, the first biography of Eric Hobsbawm, is far more than a study of a professional historian. It is a study of an era.
Richard J. Evans is Regius Professor Emeritus of History at Cambridge University. His previous books include Altered Pasts, The Third Reich in History and Memory, In Defence of History, Telling Lies about Hitler, The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich at War and The Third Reich in Power.
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- Publication date:
07 Feb 2019
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Superbly researched — Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
The great accomplishment of Richard J Evans's brilliantly crafted Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History is how he takes us into the private, inner world of the master historian — Gavin Jacobson, New Statesman
An authoritative biography . . . A Life in History tells the inside story of [Hobsbawm's] now classic works — Neal Ascherson, Observer
A superbly researched biography — Sunday Telegraph
Affectionate and fascinating . . . A full and generous biography of a man who was constantly aware that he lived in interesting, if fractured, times — Allan Massie, Scotsman
Fascinating . . . This is an excellent book. Like Hobsbawm's own works, it should be read by anyone with a serious interest in history - though those of us with a frivolous interest in the rackety life of Bohemian London will also enjoy it — Richard Vinen, Evening Standard
Richly detailed . . . This is an immensely impressive biography . . . Evans, a distinguished historian of modern Germany, provides clear and well informed accounts of the various historiographical and other controversies that
Hobsbawm was involved in
— Stefan Collini, Guardian