On the Edge of the New Century: Eric Hobsbawm in Conversation with Antonio Polito. – Review – book review
On the Edge of the New Century: Eric Hobsbawm in Conversation with Antonio Polito Translated from the Italian by Allan Cameron The New Press. 176 pages. $21.00.
The British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm is most famous for his four-volume history of the modern world (The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire, and The Age of Extremes). Here, though, we have the historian as interview subject. Antonio Polito, the London correspondent of La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, conducted the interview in 1999.
Hobsbawm comments on the rise of Clinton, Blair, and Schroeder, draws distinctions between the right and the left, ruminates about the effects of globalization, and worries about the omnipotence with which the United States presides over global affairs. He calls Blair “Thatcher in trousers,” and says that the motto of the left, minimally, should be: “Yes to the market, no to free market society.”
The book is a bit limited by its largely European perspective and its preoccupation with the events of 1999. The NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo, which Hobsbawm opposed, looms large. Polito’s questions are sometimes mundane, perhaps losing a bit in the translation.
Still, Hobsbawm has a lot of thoughtful things to say about the current state of the world and the direction ahead. For these cogitations from one of the great living historians, the book is worth a look.
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