Postscript: Eric Hobsbawm

Historians in the News

Stephen Mark Kotkin is Professor of History and director of the Program in Russian Studies at Princeton University

...[His] best book, at least to my mind, remains the memoir “Interesting Times” (2002), one of the very few—dare I say—great life stories of a historian. (I wrote about it for The New Yorker.) His memoir enacts the core principles of all his historical work: he wrote for the public, not just for the guild, and he wrote not only with compelling narrative, which is how popular history is delivered, but with strong analysis, too. Does that add up to more than legions of students and well-grounded original interpretations? It is arguably Hobsbawm’s overall life/work rather than any single piece that has been and will continue to prove most influential. On that front, there’s also this: having embraced and never relinquished the passionate early Marx, E. J. Hobsbawm, as he reaffirmed in his last book, was in it to change the world.

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