'A magnificent piece of historical exposition... an essential read.' - Independent 'A masterpiece' - Guardian 'A brilliant and stimulating book.' - Financial Times 'The power of Hobsbawm's exploration of the age of hot and cold wars lies in its brilliant synthesis of familiar, though sometimes forgotten, facts and ideas. It combines an Olympian, multi-lingual erudition and an addictive, readable style.' - Ben Pimlott, Independent on Sunday Books of the Year 'The best account of our calamitous century ... A marvellously imaginative set of essays on the period from 1924 to the collapse of Communism. For Hobsbawm, this constitutes virtually the history of his own lifetime and ideas; and he draws the threads together with subtlety, compassion and a gentle, quizzical wit.' - John Simpson, Spectator Books of the Year 'A magnificent piece of historical exposition ... an essential read ... Hobsbawm is a master historian and his version of events is thrilling.' - Brian Appleyard, The Independent 'It is a chastening thought that this book itself, with its staggering erudition, lucid prose and sanity of vision, may bear witness to a world which a brash postmodern culture is already in the process of burying" - Terry Eagleton, The Sunday Times
The 'short' 20th century has fluctuated between the extremes of war and catastrophe (the 1914-45 era when the 19th-century liberal capitalist world order was destroyed by the forces of nationalism, bolshevism and fascism), a short-lived 'Golden Age' of unparalleled economic growth and prosperity (1945-73) and the 'Crisis Decades' of the late 20th century when the old moral certainties and the old political and economic structures have collapsed, leaving behind a world whose future direction is both uncertain and perhaps perilous. This brilliant and incisive analysis of the history of the world since 1914 by veteran left-wing revisionist historian Eric Hobsbawm is full of penetrating insights. An intellectual tour de force, it is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand what Isaiah Berlin has called 'the most terrible century in Western history'. (Kirkus UK)
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