At a glance:
- Author: Eric Hobsbawm
- First Published: 1987
- Type of Work: History
- Genres: Nonfiction, History
- Subjects: Culture, History, Politics, Colonialism, Nineteenth century, Economic conditions, Victorian era or Victorianism, Economic policy
- Locales: Europe
Eric Hobsbawm’s study of the culminating years of the old European order provides a fascinating view of a society that came to dominate the world, but which could not resolve its own internal contradictions. The European nations--the “Great Powers” -- were able to carve out vast empires for themselves in the less-developed areas of the globe but were unable or unwilling to deal successfully with profound changes at home. These changes, ranging from the spread of democracy to the rise of labor to the growing rivalries between states and the resultant arms race, culminated in the cataclysm of 1914 and the end of the old order.
What sort of world was this, and how did its people live? What did they do, and what did they think? These may seem to be simple, almost naive questions, but they are the most difficult for the historian to answer. Eric Hobsbawm has not only answered them, but presents his thoughts in lucid, sparkling, and provoking fashion. THE AGE OF EMPIRE is history with a human face, and it gives the reader an idea of what it was like to live in that period--for both royalty and commoners, for the bourgeoisie in their over-decorated apartments and the avant-garde artists in their studios and cafes. Aptly, Hobsbawm uses economy as the pivot of his work, since this was the period in which modern capitalism reached its greatest and most unrestrained extent, yet at the same time revealed its profound flaws. Other aspects of life are certainly not omitted: politics, labor, the emergence of women from the seclusion of the home, the world-altering discoveries of modern science--all of these are brilliantly examined by Hobsbawn.
THE AGE OF EMPIRE forms a loose trilogy with two earlier works, THE AGE OF REVOLUTION and THE AGE OF CAPITAL. While the present volume can be read alone with pleasure and profit, it will certainly spur many readers to complete a trilogy which is packed with information and alive with entertainment.
Sources for Further Study
Booklist. LXXXIV, February 15, 1988, p. 968.
History Today. XXXVIII, May, 1988, p. 54.
London Review of Books. X, July 7, 1988, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. February 28, 1988, p. 1.
The Nation. CCXLVI, February 20, 1988, p. 238.
The New York Review of Books. XXXV, April 14, 1988, p. 3.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, February 21, 1988, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXII, December 25, 1987, p. 66.
The Times Literary Supplement. February 12, 1988, p. 153.
The Wall Street Journal. CCXI, March 14, 1988, p. 24.
The Washington Post Book World. XVIII, February 14, 1988, p. 9.
Did this raise a question for you?