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The British Marxist Historians Paperback – 9 Oct 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, 9 Oct 1995
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; New Ed edition (9 Oct. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333662431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333662434
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.2 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,700,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Harvey Kaye's The British Marxist Historians... is a lasting contribution to the history of twentieth-century Marxism, to a corner of British cultural history, and to the study of how history and historians work' - from the foreword by Eric Hobsbawn

About the Author

HARVEY J. KAYE is Rosenberg Professor of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He is the author of The Powers of the Past, The Education of Desire (Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize winner, 1993) and coeditor of The American Radical.

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Format: Paperback
Harvey Kaye's work on the British Marxist Historians should be required reading for any kind of advanced study into any kind of history. By looking at several of the 'Marxist' historians that worked in Britain in the post-war period, Kaye reviews the work of several formidable intellectuals. The two most famous are of course Eric Hobsbawm, who continues to write and lecture today, and Edward (or E.P.) Thompson, whose study "The Making of the English Working Class" was a seminal work in British Social History.
The pioneering concept of 'history from below' - the study essentially of the thoughts, actions and impact of the common people, was created by these Historians. It was a revoltionary historiographical tool. Thompson's study of working class radicalism, a classic text using history from below. Whatever the criticisms of this work (and there are many) it remains a pioneering work of history.
Kaye's work on these historians is an assesment of their work, lives and impact. As Marxists, many remained faithful to their original decision to become Communists. Several left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1956 in protest at the revelations of Stalin's atrocities as well as the invasion of Hungary in November of that year. But their work was deeply influenced by their Marxist outlook, and Kaye examines this in great detail.
An excellent work in historiographical analysis.
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Format: Paperback
The Marxist analysis of history has one major fault. It is incorrect. Marx argued for a social totality in which the relations of production in specific stages of the development of the material forces of production were the major factor in determining the general process of social, political and intellectual life. "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness." This faulty analysis provided the framework within which British Marxist historians sought to re-write history in terms of economic determinism and "history from below", a concept coined by the French historian Georges Lefebvre.

The non Marxist R H Tawney had provided a critique of the Whig approach to history as the inevitable march of progress towards enlightenment, although he too relied on the activities of movers and shakers rather than pure economic forces. In searching for the latter in terms of the class struggle, Marxist historians created the intellectuals' raison d'etre for their own non-productive existence in a mythical world in which the "people" were accorded an importance they did not have. The Whig interpretation of history had its faults but its strength lay in avoiding the lumping to which J H Hexter referred in his famous destruction of Christopher Hill's methods and analysis of the English Civil War.

Hill had argued that the development of ideas by pivotal figures such as Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh and Edward Coke synthesised and systemised conceptions of science, history and law which he characterised as creating a bourgeois revolution.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x98fa5648) out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97eefd38) out of 5 stars Table of Contents 1 Jun. 2009
By TxCowboyDancer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Table of contents:

1. Introduction -- 2. Maurice Dobb and the debate on the transition to capitalism -- 3. Rodney Hilton on feudalism and the English peasantry -- 4. Christopher Hill on the English revolution -- 5. Eric Hobsbawm on workers, peasants and world history -- 6. E.P. Thompson on the making of the English working class -- 7. The collective contribution.
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