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The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 by Eric Hobsbawm (1994)

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English (16)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Icelandic (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I started at the end, chronologically speaking with this addendum to Eric Hobsbawm's much admired "Age of" sequence. The book by its nature is more than just historical analysis, with personal observation and reflection informing its analysis.
On its own terms it is an excellent book for gaining an understanding of cause and effect in the twentieth century. It is not a narrative and those less familiar with the events would be better with Martin Gilbert or John Roberts' efforts. Hobsbawm certainly popularised the notion of the short twentieth century (1914 - 1991), a periodisation which is now widely used. Within that he discusses three sub periods: the age of catastrophe, the Golden age and the age of crisis.
This is not a light book. It is not necessarily hard to read but it is rich in content and thought. The paperback has almost 600 pages of densely packed ideas, and I often found myself re-reading paragraphs. Again not because they're not clear, just that there is a lot of thought to take in.
Because of Hobsbawm's Marxist background a lot of people immediately attack him, some quite venomously once he was safely in the grave (e.g. A N Wilson). The only word for that is cowardly. Actually reading this book on its own terms Hobsbawm clearly identifies the problems, flaws and cruelties in "really existing socialism" and the other totalitarian regimes of the age of catastrophe in the first half of the century. Stalin is described as "an autocrat of exceptional, some might say unique, ferocity, ruthlessness and lack of scruple". He describes Soviet collectivisation as a failure. He also gives a deft analysis of the fall of communism in the 1980s. He effectively describes "the weaknesses of the self-serving party bureaucracy of the Brezhnev era; a combination of incompetence and corruption" and is stinging about Maoism.
Make no mistake, Hobsbawm sees plenty of flaws in capitalism and doesn't believe it is sustainable. His discussion about growing inequality, climatic effects, globalisation and the challenges of population growth could have come out of yesterday's newspaper (the book was published in 1994). But to get the impression from a few critics that he is a rabid unapologetic Stalinist certainly will cause you to miss out on a lot of fascinating insights from this book.
He identifies key transformations through the century - diminishing Eurocentrism, globalisation and stronger transnational interconnections, and the disintegration of connections between individuals, a self-centredness. This book really got me thinking and reflecting and gives a good historical framework for understanding contemporary events. ( )
  bevok | Jul 31, 2017 |
Fast paced and fun to read. He analyzes political movements and economic successes and disasters across the globe. It is an amazing tour de force and even if you think you know your history, you will find new insights here. It is worrisome to see the parallels between the economic collapse in the thirties and the rise of fascism with our own 'recession' and rising demagoguery, religious fundamentalism and ethnic estrangements. ( )
1 vote almigwin | Apr 14, 2016 |
THE AGE OF EXTREMES is eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm's personal vision of the twentieth century. Remarkable in its scope, and breathtaking in its depth of knowledge, this immensely rewarding book reviews the uniquely destructive and creative nature of the troubled twentieth century and makes challenging predicitions for the future.
  HitherGreen | Jan 24, 2016 |
與其說這是一本自傳,不如說是霍布斯邦回顧他這一生與時代的關係。霍氏在其中並未將生活、求學等一般傳記常​見的主題做為重點,而是將自己與時代交織在一起,透過自身的時光之旅,帶我們遊覽一百年來巨變的時代。​ ( )
  windhongtw | Apr 3, 2015 |
  winedrunksea | Mar 28, 2015 |
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On the 28 June 1992 President Mitterrand of France made a sudden, unannounced and unexpected appearance in Sarajevo, already the centre of a Balkan war that was to cost many thousands of lives during the remainder of the year.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679730052, Paperback)

Dividing the century into the Age of Catastrophe, 1914-1950, the Golden Age, 1950-1973, and the Landslide, 1973-1991, Hobsbawm marshals a vast array of data into a volume of unparalleled inclusiveness, vibrancy, and insight, a work that ranks with his classics The Age of Empire and The Age of Revolution. Includes 32 pages of photos.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

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This book is a highly readable and stimulating reassessment of our century. Written from the point of view of one who believes in reason and science, it abounds with incisive analysis, cogent argument and challenging judgments on varied topics.

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