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Tributes are paid to historian Eric Hobsbawm

Tributes are paid to historian Eric Hobsbawm

TRIBUTES have been paid to the historian Eric Hobsbawm, who has passed aged 95.

A lifelong Marxist, Professor Hobsbawm was regarded as one of the greatest historians of his age, although his work and views sometimes resulted in controversy.

He was born in Egypt in 1917 to Jewish parents, but a clerical error on his birth certificate changed his family name from Hobsbaum to Hobsbawm.

As a teenager living in Berlin, he had joined the Communist Party at a time when young jews were confronting Nazi Brownshirts on the streets and was sent by the family to live in London when Hitler came to power in 1933.

After Cambridge he embarked on a career in academia, but his membership of the Communist Party was viewed by many as the principal reason for a lack of promotion over the years.

But he was to forge a worldwide reputation as an historian, although his work would, at times, defend the record of communism — he at one point argued that it had provided the West with the incentive, through fear, to reform and to benefit economically.

During his career he wrote more than 30 books, including The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1884, The Age Of Empire: 1875-1914 and his final work, How To Change The World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (see below), which was published in 2011.

Among the many tributes was one from Labour leader Ed Miliband, who said Professor Hobsbawm had been a man who was passionate about his politics and who had brought history “out of the ivory tower and into people’s lives”.

He added: “He was not simply an academic, he cared deeply about the political direction of the country. Indeed, he was one of the first people to recognise the challenges to Labour in the late 1970s and 1980s from the changing nature of our society.”

To see Professor Hobsbawm talk about his book, How To Change The World , click here.

To view an excerpt from an interview Professor Hobsbawm gave in 2009, click here.


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