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In Memoriam: Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)

Eric Hobsbawm was a highly acclaimed Marxist historian and professor emeritus, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, and president, Birkbeck University of London.

The Center for European and Eurasian Studies is deeply saddened by the death of Professor Eric Hobsbawm, the highly acclaimed Marxist historian, in London on October 1, 2012. He was 95. Hobsbawm lectured at CEES on several occasions. His death is a major loss for the international community of historians and social scientists. Hobsbawm was a towering scholar, one of the best historians of the 20th century, whose works are indispensable for understanding modern Europe. His early book on Social Bandits and Primitive Rebels and his four volume history of modern Europe – The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire, and The Age of Extremes – are among the giants of historical writing.  In the four volume series, Hobsbawm exposed the drama and complexity of modern European history from the French Revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union. His memoir, Interesting Times, examined the span of  the  20th century through his own often troubled but extremely rich and productive life  from his birth in Egypt to his life, work, and personal experiences in Austria, Germany, Latin America, and England. Eric Hobsbawm never stopped working.  His last book, How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism, came out at the end of 2011 and, until his death, he had been working on a new project on the role of religion in politics. In addition to his academic oeuvre in history,  Hobsbawm , in the early years of his career and writing under the pseudonym of Francis Newton, published articles on jazz. An updated version of The Jazz Scene was issued under his own name in 1993. A socially sensitive man, Hobsbawm remained faithful to his ideals throughout his life.

Ivan Berend
Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA

 

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