Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm

Book Review

Reading Eric Hobsbawm's book 'The Age of Revolution 1789-1848' is like swimming in a rough sea. The next wave of information hits you before you have surfaced from the last one leaving you overwhelmed and a little disorientated! It is a dense book. Each paragraph merits a chapter of its own, and each chapter a book. But if you are looking for an overview of a period of history that did more than any other to shape our current situation, then this is the one.

Hobsbawm is not the easiest of writers, but I've had this book for probably 20 years, and as an introduction to the difficult reading I'm going to have to do once I start my MA, I decided to tackle it, and set myself a 30 page/day challenge. In order to fulfil my timetable, I had to accept that I would not absorb much of the information, but the broad picture did sink in, and it has been a fascinating read.

The Marxist credentials of the writer are never far from the surface, but considering the period covered by this book, they provide an ideal structure for political and economic analysis. In particular, the chapters on the Industrial Revolution, Nationalism, the Labouring Poor, and Secular Ideology really helped me to understand what happened in Manchester and why.

Nearly 50 years after its publication, this book is still a goldmine of information, and a great starting point for further study.                                              

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