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Monday, April 16, 2012

Historian Eric Hobsbawm interviewed by Simon Schama BBC Radio

 Hobsbawn is one of my hero historians. I didn't know he was still alive It's a great interview of him by Schama. Hobsbawm is so sharp at 94. Nor did I know he wrote another book that was published last year. 
John Tognolini

Eric Hobsbawm is interviewed by Simon Schama to discuss his work and his extraordinary life.
Professor Eric Hobsbawm is one of our most eminent historians. His four-volume history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, starting with 'The Age of Revolution' and ending with 'The Age of Extremes', is considered a masterpiece, an accessible classic which is still read by students today.

Click to access interview. 

"Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917, months before the Russian Revolution. He grew up in Vienna and Berlin, before moving to England, where he studied history at Cambridge. At 94 years old, he is President of Birkbeck College, and is still writing. His most recent book, published in 2011 is 'How to Change the World', in the light of the global financial crisis, it is a timely collection of essays reassessing Marx and Marxism.

Simon Schama meets Eric at his home in Hampstead to discuss his turbulent childhood, orphaned at 14, he moves to Berlin to stay with relatives who are too concerned with scratching a living in the collapsing Weimar Republic to notice that the teenage Eric is hiding a Communist Party printing press in his bedroom.

In 1933 he moved to England, a country he found incredibly boring after the excitement of Berlin, however, it is the English education system that makes him a historian, when he wins a scholarship to Cambridge, later founding Communist Party Historians Group, and the journal Past and Present, which influenced a whole generation, including a young Simon Schama.

Eric Hobsbawm is an unrepentant Marxist, whilst acknowledging the failure of twentieth century Communism, he has not given up on Marxist ideals. As he tells Simon Schama, he would like to be remembered as 'somebody who not only who kept the flag flying, but who showed that by waving it you can actually achieve something, if only good and readable books'."

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