I bought three books of Eric Hobsbawm’s Age series long ago during a routine visit to the book store without knowing much about the author. In his introduction, Hobsbawm had stated that the books were meant not for lay readers but professional historians. This dampened my spirits. But once into the book, I was overwhelmed by the brilliance of his ideas and arguments. His scholarship was profound and his analysis of historical processes enlightening. They opened new vistas of understanding for me and, I am sure, for tens of thousands of people who read and re-read history from varied perspectives. Long live his memory.
Sabu Kurien John, Puducherry
In the death of Eric Hobsbawm, the world has lost a renaissance historian who magisterially laid bare the Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1914) and lived through the Short Twentieth Century (1914-1991) amid its ‘descent into barbarism’ and rising aspirations of socialism. He visualised the 21st century turbulence in which globalisation, democracy and terrorism engaged him as deeply as Revolution, Capital and Empire in his early career.
He was a pioneer in social history and his works Primitive Rebels, Bandits, Labouring Men, and Worlds of Labour remain essential for the students of history, sociology and social anthropology. He made Karl Marx understandable and popular as socialism eclipsed in the Soviet Union. He will be remembered as a patriarch among socialists.
Sukhdev Singh Sohal, Amritsar
The world has lost one of the most influential thinkers and foremost historians of contemporary age. In his book, How to change the world, Hobsbawm wrote: “And yet something has changed for the better. We have rediscovered that capitalism is not the answer, but the question.” He believed that “once again time has come to take Marx seriously.”
Alembath Manohar, Kannur
Keywords: Eric Hobsbawm