Rebel with many causes: Review of ‘Eric Hobsbawm — A Life in History’

Stanly Johny in The Hindu:

In early 1933, in the final days of the Weimar Republic, Eric Hobsbawm was in Berlin. He had lost his parents, and his uncle and aunt had taken him to Berlin where he joined his younger sister. As a teenaged student, Hobsbawm saw Germany falling into the hands of the Nazis. Hitler’s Brownshirts were unleashing widespread violence on the streets of Berlin. The country’s economy was in a shambles. Political instability was at its peak and the Nazi party was growing in popularity. Those were the formative years of the political Hobsbawm. “In this highly politicised atmosphere, it was perhaps hardly surprising that Eric soon became interested in the communist cause,” writes Richard J. Evans in Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, a biography of one of the most renowned historians of the 20th century.

Evans, himself a historian, and a friend and admirer of Hobsbawm, has done extensive research, got hold of his personal files as well as the documents prepared by the British secret service on him and interviewed friends, students and family members to reconstruct the life of the historian, who was born in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and died in 2012, when the global economy was struggling to weather the heavy winds of the Great Recession.

More here.