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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 13 May 2017
Would use this seller again.

Great book in the series. Every Brexitier should read it!
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on 12 May 2016
A must for anybody interested in this period, covers material not published elsewhere
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 August 2016
This book is the first instalment in a four volume series concerned with exploring and understanding the history of modern society. Hobsbawn presents these volumes as a series of ‘ages’ – this book being titled “The Age of Revolution”, and its sequels are “The Age of Capital”, “The Age of Empire”, and “Age of Extremes”. Collectively, the historical emergence and subsequent development of capitalism is outlined and analysed. Such an endeavour is certainly challenging – and is uncommon within the study of history (as most academic historians focus on a much narrower field of investigation, rather than seeking to engage with a social formation in its entirety). What make this book, and the series as whole, even more unconventional is that the author adopts a Marxist approach, grounding his analysis on Marx’s materialist conception of history.

“The Age of Revolution” is concerned with the period 1789 to 1848, and – although it comments on broader European, and occasionally global events – it primarily focuses on Britain and France. Hobsbawn persuasively argues that the societal transformations occurring in these two countries during this period were of fundamental importance to the development of capitalist society. The author engages with the economic, political and social conditions and circumstances that existed. He explores industrialisation (as an economic revolution), radical changes in governance – from absolute monarchy to embryonic democracy (as a political revolution), and the demise of religion alongside the rise of secularism (as a cultural revolution). The narrative begins with the French Revolution of 1789, and it concludes with the European continental revolutions of 1848.

This is a highly fascinating book, well-written and engaging. While it’s clearly intended to be educational (and will be of interest to history students), the author also seeks to present a book that can be popularly understood. This book was first published in 1962, and it’s been very influential in shaping thought and debate. It continues to be relevant – and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in either this period of history or, more generally, in the dynamics of capitalism.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2016
This book is the first instalment in a four volume series concerned with exploring and understanding the history of modern society. Hobsbawn presents these volumes as a series of ‘ages’ – this book being titled “The Age of Revolution”, and its sequels are “The Age of Capital”, “The Age of Empire”, and “Age of Extremes”. Collectively, the historical emergence and subsequent development of capitalism is outlined and analysed. Such an endeavour is certainly challenging – and is uncommon within the study of history (as most academic historians focus on a much narrower field of investigation, rather than seeking to engage with a social formation in its entirety). What make this book, and the series as whole, even more unconventional is that the author adopts a Marxist approach, grounding his analysis on Marx’s materialist conception of history.

“The Age of Revolution” is concerned with the period 1789 to 1848, and – although it comments on broader European, and occasionally global events – it primarily focuses on Britain and France. Hobsbawn persuasively argues that the societal transformations occurring in these two countries during this period were of fundamental importance to the development of capitalist society. The author engages with the economic, political and social conditions and circumstances that existed. He explores industrialisation (as an economic revolution), radical changes in governance – from absolute monarchy to embryonic democracy (as a political revolution), and the demise of religion alongside the rise of secularism (as a cultural revolution). The narrative begins with the French Revolution of 1789, and it concludes with the European continental revolutions of 1848.

This is a highly fascinating book, well-written and engaging. While it’s clearly intended to be educational (and will be of interest to history students), the author also seeks to present a book that can be popularly understood. This book was first published in 1962, and it’s been very influential in shaping thought and debate. It continues to be relevant – and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in either this period of history or, more generally, in the dynamics of capitalism.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 August 2016
This book is the first instalment in a four volume series concerned with exploring and understanding the history of modern society. Hobsbawn presents these volumes as a series of ‘ages’ – this book being titled “The Age of Revolution”, and its sequels are “The Age of Capital”, “The Age of Empire”, and “Age of Extremes”. Collectively, the historical emergence and subsequent development of capitalism is outlined and analysed. Such an endeavour is certainly challenging – and is uncommon within the study of history (as most academic historians focus on a much narrower field of investigation, rather than seeking to engage with a social formation in its entirety). What make this book, and the series as whole, even more unconventional is that the author adopts a Marxist approach, grounding his analysis on Marx’s materialist conception of history.

“The Age of Revolution” is concerned with the period 1789 to 1848, and – although it comments on broader European, and occasionally global events – it primarily focuses on Britain and France. Hobsbawn persuasively argues that the societal transformations occurring in these two countries during this period were of fundamental importance to the development of capitalist society. The author engages with the economic, political and social conditions and circumstances that existed. He explores industrialisation (as an economic revolution), radical changes in governance – from absolute monarchy to embryonic democracy (as a political revolution), and the demise of religion alongside the rise of secularism (as a cultural revolution). The narrative begins with the French Revolution of 1789, and it concludes with the European continental revolutions of 1848.

This is a highly fascinating book, well-written and engaging. While it’s clearly intended to be educational (and will be of interest to history students), the author also seeks to present a book that can be popularly understood. This book was first published in 1962, and it’s been very influential in shaping thought and debate. It continues to be relevant – and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in either this period of history or, more generally, in the dynamics of capitalism.
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This is one of those wonderful books about a subject I know well, but that pushes in new directions and yet reviews everything I have struggled to comprehend. It is very rare for me to find such a book, one that makes me feel awestruck all over again for something I have read about for years, renewing my hunger to dig deeper. I finished it, then read it all the way through again, underlining like I used to as an undergraduate. It felt that fresh to me, even though it is about 50 years old and supposedly "marxist". (The only thing I could identify as marxist was an emphasis on class relations, but it fits what was going rather than forcing different kinds of factors into such an analysis. I ended by not being sure what marxist even meant.)

The book is about a double revolution. First, there is a political revolution of profound importance: the French Revolution swept away the old order of aristocratic privilege, opening jobs in government and the military to talent. The traditional hierarchies disappeared, crushed finally by a violent purge of those in power. Many reviewers in the US think that this is misplaced emphasis, that the American Revolution is the one of real significance, but I think Hobsbawm makes a convincing case that it was France's that was most important because it was also a social revolution. The American one left most social structures in place, life went on more or less the same as before, as a free-enterprise society whose hierarchies and privilege already were far more fluid than those in EUrope; its value was in the creation of democratic institutions that could evolve, which also occurred later in Europe. This also meant that, in EUrope, the old certainties died, freeing peasants from hereditary obligations but also at the loss of at least minimal help from property owners or aristocrats - they were free to stay put, migrate to cities, and seek entirely new kinds of careers without traditional protections. It was left to Napoleon to spread these ideas to the rest of Europe by force, beyond merely the realm of ideas.

The second revolution is industrial and perfectly symbiotic with the French socio-political revolution: it was a new means of production and organization of both the economy and society, behind that of a capitalist system. A new class arose, the bourgeois, who invested in business and accumulated capital, basing their livelihood not on agricultural resources and property ownership, but on an ever-changing "market" for goods. At the very beginning, Hobsbawm identifies three parts that fit in Britain: 1) the invention of the textile industry; 2) a rise in steel production, principally for new machines and railroads; 3) the creation of a new market of consumers, who will buy the new goods and find employments making them. It represented a huge expansion in trade. The new economic actors - bourgeois managers and their working class counterparts - fundamentally changed the urban landscape.

Interestingly, Hobsbawm also convinced me that the visions of rising living standards - now such standard fare in the political salesmanship - was impossible to foresee, particularly at the beginning. That means that the system survived by brute force rather than good will. As markets matured and the original textile industries were no longer profitable, it was the workers who paid in the form of reduced salaries and living standards, often in the most horrible of urban slums. This explains the rise of socialism, also coeval with the industrial revolution, a radically different means of ownership of production. It reached a crisis point in the 1840s with a major depression, of which the Irish potato famine was merely one example, leading directly into the transnational insurrectionary convulsions of 1848; its consequences were only worked out after WW1 in more democratic regimes, but also in the birth of the USSR, the radical communist experiment.

These are the core ideas of the book. But Hobsbawm doesn't stop there: he also explains the intellectual currents of the time in a way that fits with his core ideas. This is about the transition from reason, particularly as that of enlightened despots, to shape societies. The ideas that rise in their place are those of the romantics, with their respect for a nascent idea of the unconscious, the view of society as an organic construct that evolves in multiple directions, and the relativism that is replacing the certainties of a mechanistic world of near-platonic ideals. These changes came with the sweeping away of traditional social structures and certainties, in particular the consolations of pervasive religious fundamentalism.

This is a valuable analysis of historical forces. It is not a narrative and there isn't enough for me about the diplomacy of the time. (I wanted a better explanation of Metternich's system, for example.) But these are available elsewhere. The synthesis at the heart of this book got me thinking about all of this with excitement. I will have to do more research into the period. Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm. This deserves a slow, careful read for rich rewards.
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on 26 February 2003
If you have to study the first half of the 19th century, this is the book to have. Hobsbawm writes logically, clearly, and on a wide range of issues, including ones you would not necessarily expect, such as the arts and sciences. As well as being informative, it is an interesting and eye-opening read.
Hobsbawm's left-wing attitudes are clear throughout much of the book, and this puts many historical events in a light you may not have seen them in before. In summary, this is a great book and the start of a great series - Hobsbawm is one of the greatest historians of our time.
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on 30 October 2014
All all right!
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on 17 June 2002
Hobsbawm's general history of Europe and its growing influence on the rest of the world starts here. It is a fantastic read, combining great narrative history with incisive analysis, descriptions of mainstream historical movements with the arkane byways of historical eccentrics.
This is the first of Hobsbawm's four brilliant "Age of ..." books, and is a joy to both newcomers to history and those who read little but.
Read this and be amazed that your high school history teacher didn't use this as a text for A level or Higher European History, but preferred to use morphine-in-print texts, thus denying a generation of the pleasures of great literature disguised as history.
Even if you've already read this, buy it again and give yourself a treat.
It's banging, man.
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on 11 April 2014
Hobsbawm's "Age of..." books and his concept of the 'long 19th century' are widely acknowledged as one of the great body of works of history conducted in the 20th century. So it seemed reasonable that this first volume was the obvious place to start.

Anyone who knows a little about Hobsbawm knows that he was a Marxist. As such he looks at all history through a particular viewpoint. It is as though he has a particular set of glasses on which allow him to see certain things but which also hide others. Though to the casual reader, probably the most obvious manifestation is his constant use of the word 'bourgeois' which got to irritate me after a while.

The twin revolutions which he begins with are the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in Britain. From the outset, he acknowledges that he is focused on the history of Europe from 1789 until 1848. The work is split into two parts: the first looking at the origins of various aspects of the period, the second looking at outcomes. This division is somewhat artificial and each chapter tends to scan the whole period, so there is some going back and forth. If anyone wanted to read a purely chronological history, then this is not the book for them.

Compared to likes of ancient historians such as Herodotus or Thucydides, Hobsbawm not only writes about a different era, but his historiography is entirely different. He covers this late on this book where he talks of the emergence of modern ways of doing history. Here, we have not so much a recounting of facts and discourse as though that were the entirety of historical study, but it is the analysis which links events idea, motivations, etc. which are the backbone of Hobsbawm's work. Above all, though, the differentiating feature here is the economic history. He looks both at wealth and poverty and the motivations of each in the realm of revolutionary history. i.e. what are the conditions that create the appetite for revolution and those that create a resistance to it?

In answering these questions (which are implicit, Hobsbawm doesn't ask them directly) we are presented with a complicated narrative, a tapestry of threads which pull together eventually to form a coherent picture. That picture is most definitely shaded in a particular way, which may well rub some people up the wrong way. That said, it illustrates very well the idea that no history can be told wholly neutrally. What you choose to include and omit and how you present it will inevitably betray the historian's own thought process. This is something the reader of history simply has to bear in mind.

If there was any great disagreement I had with Hobsbawm is that at times he had a tendency to state what the aims were of the more conservative figures in his history. Here, I felt that Hobsbawm had looked at the outcomes of their actions and interpreted those as aims, seemingly downplaying the possibility that the thought process at the time may have overlooked these matters. In other words, he was projecting onto others his own conclusions. Any historian faces this as a possibility, though it came across more prevalent to me in this work than in most others.

While this is a weakness in the book, it is also an example of the book's greatest strength; that being his great boldness. To read The Age of Revolution is to be challenged by it. One thing you cannot do is read and ignore Hobsbawm. He will provoke a reaction in any thoughtful reader, whether that be in violent agreement or vehement disagreement - or likely a mixture of both.
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