In one of those coincidences that heighten—or at least change—one’s experience of a book, I had just started reading Eric Hobsbawm’s How To Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism, when I learned that he died earlier today at the age of ninety-five. Hobsbawm kept working right up until the end of his life: How To Change the World appeared last year; next spring his British publisher will release a new collection of his essays on culture and politics. Hobsbawm’s reputation as a historian was so great that it could coexist securely, if not always happily, with his reputation as an unrepentant Communist. He was a historian’s historian. Conservatives like Niall Ferguson and anti-Communist liberals like Tony Judt revered his three-volume survey of “the long nineteenth century”: The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, The Age of Capital: 1848-1875, and The Age of Empire: 1874-1914."
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