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Eric Hobsbawm: A British internationalist

One of Britain's greatest historians, he influenced academics across the world—but his political beliefs hampered his later works

By Ramachandra Guha   November 2012

Eric Hobsbawm’s books demonstrate that Marxists can write with flair and feeling

In 1980, as a beginning graduate student in Kolkata, I was directed by my thesis supervisor to a short, pungent piece by Eric Hobsbawm that had just appeared in the journal Past and Present. This was a response to a previous essay in the same journal by Lawrence Stone, which celebrated the “revival of narrative” in historical writing. In Stone’s view, this was a welcome departure from the arid, analytical, social-scientific and (not least) Marxian trends that had…

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