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I could really do with some more...
on 16 October 2007
Eric Hobsbawm is a really good writer - clear, calm and with gentle ironic overtones.
The essays in this book are collected from a variety of sources - most have been given as talks to various gatherings. They've been edited to help make them 'hang together' better in a book, but this doesn't altogether work.
Some of the essays are great; insightful, erudite and engaging. Some are far too short - cut off just as they start to get interesting. Overall, I wanted more. But some, although providing really interesting analyses, finally fail because, as Hobsbawm admits, he simply cannot understand the (quote) 'crazies' currently occupying the White House. Hobsbawm sees the ebb and flow of history, the changing currents, the rise and fall of empires and, to him, the current US position is simply nuts, showing no historical/geopolitical awareness at all - and so he gives up. He simply shrugs and stops. And that is the most frustrating aspect of this book.
In the end, I was left wanting more. It is a short book anyway. I'm now reading Naomi Klein's new book. It is interesting to come from Hobsbawm's rather Olympian stance to Klein's detailed and committed polemic. They work well together.