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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 November 2000
It is clear from the outset that this book is aimed at those who already have a wider understanding of some of the broad debates within the historical community, though at the same time that is not to say it is written with an air of exclusivity. I say understanding for if you already have opinions on how and why history should be conducted, particularly as a subject for academic study, then it will assist greatly in deciding whether or not you agree with the opinions offered by Hobsbawm. One of the most notable scholars of our age, he again asserts his importance within the historical community and demonstrates his skill at appreciating exactly what it is to study history in theory and in practice, and how it is still, ever important and indeed, relevant to the modern world. Covering a variety of topics through essay format, the roles of such subjects as social history, Marx, and the Annales school as well as economic history and even modern day barbarism all help the student, the established academic and the amateur historian alike to appreciate for themselves the complexities of our subject. This is not a light read, nor is it something that one will instantly understand and many will fail to concur with the books central arguments and views, but such is the nature of history. Hobsbawm provides us with one of the most thought provoking works of recent years and reminds us that debate among the historical community with regard to the way it is conducted in general, not just in terms of particular periods and issues, is far from dead. A high recommendation from this student of history to any other.
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on 30 October 2002
Eric Hobsbawm, now well into his 80s, continues to write excellent history. On History is a series of essays and lectures which attempt to give students of history a philosophical and theoretical basis with which to continue their studies.
He looks at concepts such as progress and history, economics and history, Marxism and history, and History from Below. Anyone studying the subject now owes a great debt to Eric Hobsbawm, and every student should read this book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2016
“On History” is a collection of essays by Eric Hobsbawn. The book comprises of 21 short pieces of writing (initially given as lectures, or appearing in academic journals; as well as including six new articles). These pieces were written during a 30 year period, from the late 1960’s through to the late 1990’s, and they reflect the breadth of Hobsbawn's interest in history. The author seeks to explore and understand the study of history, and he does so by both engaging in theoretical issues and drawing on the social sciences. Hobsbawn is particularly concerned with modern history – with the rise and development of capitalist society, both in Europe and globally. What makes his approach rather distinct is that he grounds his analysis in Marx’s materialist conception of history (and, as such, is at odds with many mainstream historians).

The essays that comprise this book are well written, clearly argued, and highly fascinating. While Hobsbawn does engage with historical events, this book is more concerned with the critique of historical analysis and methodology. He persuasively makes the point that history is ‘real’ (not a social construct, as post-modernists claim), that it can be understood, and that it needs to be understood – so as not to be repeated. Hobsbawn is interested in explaining how history ought to be studied – through engagement with the broader study of society (and, especially, economic circumstances). He rejects the notion that history is defined by kings, treaties and battles. Rather, actual history concerns the lives – and living conditions – of ordinary people, and is essentially a history ‘from below’. Taking this further, Hobsbawn seeks to emphasise how history is characterised by the succession of socio-economic formations, and how class struggles are a crucial mechanism of transition. Yet he is not someone who blindly follows some vulgar Marxist doctrine – and he rejects the notion of inevitability. As such, Hobsbawn advances a sophisticated variant of Marxist analysis and critique.

Overall, this is an important contribution to the study of history by a world-renowned historian. I found the whole book to be of interest. It’s presented in a manner that allows for popular readership – and is not a ‘dry’ academic text. If the subject of ‘what history means and involves’ is something you’re fascinated by, then I fully recommend this book.
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on 4 December 2013
I bought this as I was keen to learn the methodology used by one of the great historians of our time. His views on the uses of history are a must read and I found his writings on economic historians to be of great use.

Great buy
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on 27 September 2014
If you like Hobsbawm, as I do, you will find this a fascinating insight into his whole approach to historical analysis. Essential reading for a proper understanding of the rest of hie work.
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on 21 January 2014
For an amateur historian, this is a broad sweep of answers to the question: Why are we bothered with history? What's it all about
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on 17 June 2015
Another fine addition to the history section of my home library from a great modern historian.
Thank you seller!
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on 19 May 2015
Very useful book to set you thinking. Rather heavy going but as a reference book, none better.
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on 15 June 2009
I bought this book thinking it was about history. I was mistaken. This is no fault of the author, who writes very well; but what he writes about (at least in this book) is not history, it is the study of history. He has a lot to say, and says it well, about how history has been studied, is studied, and ought to be studied. Embedded in this are fascinating little nuggets, generally no more than two sentences long, of actual history. But this is not what I was looking for. I accept that this is my fault, so I can't rate it badly; but be warned.
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on 6 November 2014
very good, very fast
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