I came across Eric Hobsbawm while reading a book by another eminent historian, Tony Judt. I must have been sufficiently impressed with what I read about him for I retained him in my memory and identified his name a little later on reading an obituary on his death, in 2012 at the age of 95, in 'The Economist'.
On reading the book, the image emanating for its author was one of prodigious intellect, phenomenal erudition with truly global reach, multifaceted, multilingual, and humane.
Whatever individual items of knowledge I possessed on the twentieth century, these coalesced, cohered, and became an integrated and convincing whole.
Similarly intertwined, mutually interacting, and co evolving - but without a trace of historic determinism - became the topics he treated: world wars - hot or cold - revolutions, the varying approaches to the economy, the First, Second, and Third world, demographic change and urbanization, society and culture, the arts, the environment and its discontents, and science and technology.
The book was written in 1994 but it has not lost its sparkle and is as pertinent to-day as it was then.
The problems that haunted humanity at the end of the millennium namely poverty, mass unemployment, violence, violent political change, wealth inequality, and the specter of ecological disaster are haunting humanity to-day but with the important difference that they are much more acute.
The author at the end of the book observes that the major political problems in the approaching millennium is not how to multiply the wealth of nations, but how to distribute it for the benefit of their inhabitants. Social distribution and not growth would dominate the politics of the new millennium.
And he concludes: we have reached a point of historic crisis. Who would presently disagree?