Hobsbawm’s achievement

by Willie Thompson


Eric Hobsbawm, who died at the beginning of October aged 95, was the last representative of the remarkable generation of Marxist historians who comprised the Communist Party Historians’ Group of the late forties and early fifties. An article to appear in a forthcoming issue of Perspectives will examine his remarkable achievement as a political, economic and social historian as well as commentator on historical theory, and also discuss his life history and autobiographical writing, along with his often controversial politics.  The latter revolved around his unyielding attachment to Marxism and the Communist Party – for which he was excoriated by the right ­– and his critique both of labourism and romantic leftism, which drew fire from the further left.


The Perspectives article will take as the centrepiece of his historical legacy the series of four volumes covering the years from the French Revolution to the end of the Soviet Union, The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and Age of Extremes, but also consider his other historical writings.  It will deal also with the the media reactions since his death, both sympathetic and hostile, and conclude with an overall evaluation of the great historian.

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